Fed Agencies Need to Forge Strong Relationships with State Counterparts in Biotech Information Disclosure

Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture release a report outlining key issues that emerged from a recent workshop.

In December 2005, the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture undertook the first in a series of dialogues on existing and potential frameworks for engaging in cooperative oversight of agricultural biotechnology and on the unique regulatory challenges presented by the technology.

The first workshop in the series, "Agricultural Biotechnology Information Disclosure: Accommodating Conflicting Interests Within Public Access Norms,•bCrLf was held in Dallas, Texas, and examined how confidential business information (CBI) conflicts can impede cooperation between state and federal regulatory agencies.

Over the course of the two-day event, participants from both federal and state governments gathered to find solutions to the issues that disrupt cooperation between state and federal agencies in their efforts to share information necessary for effective oversight of agricultural biotechnology.

The Pew Initiative is pleased to announce that a paper based on that workshop is now available at: pewagbiotech.org/events/1214/WorkshopReport.pdf.

Some of the key points that emerged from the workshop included:

  • State and federal regulatory authorities sometimes are not able to share important information with each other about the field trials they regulate due to the need to protect confidential business information.
  • State regulators often do not have sufficient information from federal agencies to understand and assess the safety and containment measures associated with a particular field trial.
  • State agricultural officials, who are often on the "front lines,•bCrLf have difficulty providing assurances to concerned citizens inquiring about genetically engineered crops, due in part to the lack of information from their federal counterparts.
  • In terms of agricultural biotechnology regulation, there is a clear need for the relevant federal government agencies to forge strong relationships with the relevant state agencies and to find ways to be conduits for information sharing and collaborative oversight of genetically engineered crops and experimental field trials of those crops.

An overview of the conference agenda and the full paper from the workshop can be viewed at: pewagbiotech.org/events/1214.

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