The Obama administration announced on Thursday that the government would update the rules in regulating genetically modified crops and other biotechnology products, citing the almost 30-year-old system, which had become confusing, outdated and not fostering public confidence, news said.
“While the current regulatory system for biotechnology products effectively protects health and the environment, advances in science and technology since 1992 have altering the product landscape,” Office of Science and Technology Policy blog reads.
The blog continues, saying the complex regulations and guidance documents prepared by the three Federal agencies having jurisdiction over biotechnology products can be difficult for the public to understand how biotech products’ safety is assessed. It also describes the regulatory process for such products to be “unduly challenging, especially for small companies.”
A memorandum has already been issued to Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to “update the coordinated framework, develop a long-term strategy to ensure that the system is prepared for the future products of biotechnology and commission an expert analysis of the future landscape of biotechnology products,” according to the blog.
Since the public is at the core of its objective, the blog mentions public participation in updating the coordinated framework.
“The administration recognizes the importance of public engagement throughout this process,” the blog continues. “The administration will hold three public engagement sessions over the over in different regions of the country,” it adds, saying specifically that the first session will be held in Washington by fall.
Any update “will undergo public notice and comment before it is finalized,” the blog assures.
Risks To Human Health
The genetically modified (GM) crops have drawn interests from media for many years but the public remains oblivious to GM plants’ advantages and disadvantages. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) study, “there is little documented evidence that GM crops are potentially toxic.”
Citing the joint project of World Health Organization and Food Agriculture Organization, “Evaluation of Allergenicity of Genetically Modified Foods,” the NCBI explained. “The presence of foreign DNA sequences in food per se poses no intrinsic risk to human health.”
“Of potential concern is the possibility that the protein produced by the transgene may be toxic. This would occur if the transgene coded for a toxin that was subsequently absorbed systemically by the host. However, the potential toxicity of the protein expressed in a GM food is an essential component of the safety assessment that has to be performed,” the study says.
The Office of Science and Technology says the update on the coordinated framework will improve the “transparency, predictability, coordination and ultimately, efficiency of the biotechnology regulatory system” to ensure public confidence.