U.S. opens biotech regulation website and plant database

WASHINGTON, DC, February 18, 2004 (ENS): Fifteen genetically engineered tomatoes have been evaluated for food, feed and planting by U.S. regulatory agencies. A new government website gives the scientific and corporate details for each transgenic tomato - and similar information for engineered beet, canola, canteloupe, corn, cotton, papaya, potato, rice, soy and other crops.

Five federal agencies have launched the website, which for the first time offers to the public information on how the U.S. government regulates and supervises agricultural products derived from biotechnology.

The site, at: http://usbiotechreg.nbii.gov, was developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), State Department and U.S. Geological Survey.

USDA, FDA and EPA share regulatory responsibility regulating agricultural biotechnology. Depending on its characteristics, a genetically engineered product may be subject to review by one or more of these agencies.

The centerpiece of the site is a searchable database of genetically engineered crop plants intended for food or feed that have completed all recommended or required reviews for food, feed or planting use in the United States.

The database lists products that have completed evaluations at all relevant federal agencies for a particular use. It does not provide information on whether or not a product actually is being used commercially in the United States. A company may choose not to sell or distribute a product that is listed on the database.

Links on the website give access to information about the U.S. oversight system for products of biotechnology, including the roles of the U.S. regulatory agencies; the laws, regulations, and procedures applicable to these products; and information the regulatory agencies have produced in reviewing each product.

The agencies say the new website is part of the U.S. government effort to share information with the public about products of agricultural biotechnology and to promote transparency in the review process that genetically engineered crop plants undergo before they are sold or used in the United States.


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