On January 18th, Environmental Defense praised the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) for finalizing its long-awaited rules applying to genetically engineered
crops. The rules spell out how the agency regulates pesticidal substances,
such as “Bt” toxins, that certain plants are genetically engineered to produce.
“EPA’s rules are a cornerstone of federal oversight of genetically engineered
crops,” said Environmental Defense senior scientist Dr. Rebecca Goldburg.
“These rules are essential to protecting both the environment and food safety.”
EPA proposed the rules in 1994, but was unable to finalize them until late
yesterday, when the rules appeared on EPA’s website.
“EPA has implemented the rules since they were first proposed,” said
Goldburg. “For example, the agency has registered as pesticides numerous Bt
toxins for use in genetically engineered cotton, potatoes, and corn, including
‘Starlink’ corn, which has contaminated taco shells and other foods. However,
EPA’s proposed rules did not clearly have the full force of the law, and were
susceptible to industry disregard. Publication of the final rules make EPA’s
regulatory program fully enforceable.”
“The rules are consistent with the recommendations of an April, 2000,
National Academy of Sciences report,” said Goldburg, who was a member of
the panel that wrote the report. The report, Genetically Modified
Pest-Protected Plants: Science and Regulation, urged that EPA’s rules be
finalized, and that the scope of the rules be expanded slightly, to apply to
some types of genetically engineered plants not covered by the proposed
Along with finalizing the rules, EPA yesterday issued a supplemental notice
requesting public comment on whether the agency should expand the scope of
the rules to be consistent with the recommendations of the National Academy
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