New site sheds light on biotechnology

A new State Department-funded Web site brings together agricultural biotechnology regulations from three federal agencies.

The site, usbiotechreg.nbii.gov, is intended as a 'one-stop shop for people who are interested in regulation of biotechnology,' said Megan Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

APHIS is one of the participating agencies in the new biotech Web site, along with the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. These three agencies share responsibility for regulating agricultural biotechnology in the United States, as the new Web site's frequently asked questions state.

At the heart of the new Web site is a database of regulatory-agency reviews of genetically modified crop plants. Users can search by product name, scientific name, applicant name, and engineered traits such as pest resistance, events or keywords.

The database draws some of its information from an APHIS application called the USDA Field Release Database, Thomas said. The Field Release Database displays the status of applications to import, move or test genetically engineered organisms and petitions to deregulate such organisms.

Other sections of the Web site provide explanations of the roles of the three agencies in biotechnology governance and links to texts of relevant legislation.

The Agricultural Biotechnology Support Fund of the State Department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs provided funding for the Web site, which went live last Friday.

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