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[genet-news] POLICY & REGULATION: More uncertainty in the USA as GMO issues heat up



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   MORE UNCERTAINTY AS GMO ISSUES HEAT UP

SOURCE:  Biorefining Magazine, USA

AUTHOR:  Anna J. Wildeman

URL:     http://biorefiningmagazine.com/article/1103101157

DATE:    03.11.2010

SUMMARY: "In recent months, the U.S. Supreme Court, a U.S. District Court from the Northern District of California and the European Commission have had their say about how genetically modified organisms should be regulated. Additionally, several U.S. and even some local jurisdictions have chimed in. As more governments weigh in, one thing is clear: without effective mandates from the federal government and consistency between the U.S. and EC, the composition, structure and jurisdiction of this particular regulatory framework will become more and more uncertain as time passes."

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MORE UNCERTAINTY AS GMO ISSUES HEAT UP

In recent months, the U.S. Supreme Court, a U.S. District Court from the Northern District of California and the European Commission have had their say about how genetically modified organisms (GMOs) should be regulated. Additionally, several U.S. and even some local jurisdictions have chimed in. As more governments weigh in, one thing is clear: without effective mandates from the federal government and consistency between the U.S. and EC, the composition, structure and jurisdiction of this particular regulatory framework will become more and more uncertain as time passes.

This uncertainty and the patchwork of regulations discussed below does not bode well for the rapid deployment of an advanced biofuels industry that does, and will continue to, rely heavily on innovative biotechnology and GMO products to develop alternatives to petroleum-based fuels.

The jurisdiction question-who regulates what-is an essential element to this discussion. In the U.S., three federal agencies have some jurisdiction over GMOs: the USDA, the U.S. EPA and the Food and Drug Administration. Each agency regulates a different aspect of GMOs, as pesticides, seeds and plants and food, respectively. However, federal regulation of GMOs is not comprehensive, which has left the door open for state and local regulation on the same issues. 

Minnesota, for example, requires permits be issued prior to any release of certain genetically engineered organisms; Mississippi requires aquiculture facilities to have a cultivation and marketing permit for any aquatic plants or animals that have been genetically modified; and the Texas Department of Agriculture has a regulatory division to oversee biotechnology programs-but it has only a vague mission to ?promote the safe development and use of genetically engineered plants,? which allows the department to evaluate risks by ?reviewing applications and requiring adequate safeguards before allowing controlled experiments to be conducted within the state.? Further, at least three counties in California and the town of Montville, Maine, have enacted outright bans on the production and cultivation of any GMOs. Although an argument could be made that some or all of these regulations are preempted by the federal regulatory scheme, that argument will be challenged until there is a 
 more comprehensive federal scheme.

This relative cornucopia of regulations is only the domestic side of the story. Earlier this summer, the EC recommended a proposal that would grant individual European Union member states the right to determine if GMO crops can be cultivated in their country. While this proposal could be of great benefit for crop imports into the EU, it sets the stage for fierce debate between the regulated community and environmentalists, as well as between member states? governing bodies. As it stands, the EU is divided over this issue, with many countries issuing blanket prohibitions on GMO cultivation, and others appearing more open to the concept. If the EC proposal is approved, it could mark the beginning of even more regulatory chaos within production agriculture, and most importantly, within the framework aimed at regulating advanced biofuels feedstock production. 

Admittedly, the legal frameworks discussed above relate largely to GMOs as seeds and crops. However, innovators hoping to develop commercial-scale plant-based advanced biofuel production facilities face an uncertain future. As noted above, the Texas Department of Agriculture Regulatory Division?s charge to ?review applications? and require ?adequate safeguards? is extremely vague and, in all likelihood, will be applied broadly to ensure there is some form of regulation, however undefined, on siting advanced biofuel production facilities that rely on or generate GMOs. Earlier this month, a report published in the journal BioScience indicated that scientists working to develop cellulosic biofuels, among other things, are feeling the pressure of the regulatory uncertainty. Authors of the report called for regulatory reforms to make scientific developments less risky and uncertain, without which this industry may come to a bumpy, if not screeching, halt. Work is underway at sever
 al land-grant research institutions to provide accurate scientific information to inform the debate on GMO use in advanced biofuel production. At this point, it is up to the federal government to take a position on GMO production and use in the context of advanced biofuel development, not only to help the industry survive, but to facilitate the government?s stated goals of reducing or eliminating this country?s reliance on imported fossil fuels.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   SUPERVISORS TO CONSIDER NOT GOING FORWARD WITH GE REGULATION DEVELOPMENT

SOURCE:  Lake County News, USA

AUTHOR:  Elizabeth Larson

URL:     http://lakeconews.com/content/view/16710/919/

DATE:    01.11.2010

SUMMARY: "the Lake County Board of Supervisors will consider halting further development of a local ordinance relating to genetically engineered (GE) crops. [...] the board is now looking at stopping work on such an ordinance and instead sending a letter to the state Legislature and federal regulators in support of the identification of GE ingredients on food labels."

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SUPERVISORS TO CONSIDER NOT GOING FORWARD WITH GE REGULATION DEVELOPMENT

LAKEPORT, Calif. ? At its Tuesday meeting the Lake County Board of Supervisors will consider halting further development of a local ordinance relating to genetically engineered (GE) crops. The board meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, in the board chambers at the Lake County Courthouse, 255 N. Forbes St., Lakeport. TV8 will broadcast the meeting live. The GE ordinance discussion is scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. This past February, the board unanimously accepted a set of proposals to use as the basis of an ordinance to regulate GE crops in Lake County, the result of about a year?s worth of work done by the board-appointed GE Crops Advisory Committee, as Lake County News has reported. However, the board is now looking at stopping work on such an ordinance and instead sending a letter to the state Legislature and federal regulators in support of the identification of GE ingredients on food labels. [...]




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