to environmental risks. This evaluation may result in recommendations for research relevant to environmental oversight and effects of transgenic plants.

  1. Assess the relevant scientific and regulatory literature in order to evaluate the scope and adequacy of APHIS’s environmental review regarding the process of notification and determination of non-regulated status. The committee will focus on the identification of effects of transgenic plants on non-target organisms and the Environmental Assessments (EA) of those effects. The study will also provide guidance on the assessment of non-target effects, appropriate tests for environmental evaluation, and assessment of cumulative effects on agricultural and non-agricultural environments.

  2. Evaluate the need for and approaches to environmental monitoring and validation processes.”

Previous National Research Council (NRC) committees have examined a number of issues related to the safety of genetically engineered organisms (NRC 1982, 1989, 2000c) but none specifically examined APHIS oversight or how commercial use of genetically engineered crops with non-pesticidal traits could affect agricultural and nonagricultural environments.

The task of this committee specifically included provision of guidance for assessment of the cumulative effects of commercialization of engineered crops on the environment. Therefore, the committee examined the potential effects on the environment that could result from the use of engineered crops on large spatial scales over many years. In addition to evaluating the potential direct environmental impacts of single engineered traits within existing agricultural systems, the committee also examined how commercialization of engineered crops with single and multiple traits could actually change farming and thereby impact agricultural and nonagricultural landscapes of the United States. As part of its task, the committee conducted a detailed study of the relevant scientific and regulatory literature and used its findings from this study in developing what the committee considers an appropriate framework for assessing the environmental effects of transgenic plants. The committee used this framework to evaluate the scope and adequacy of the APHIS review process.


Risk assessment literature and history demonstrate that environmental regulation of agricultural practices and technologies involves an inter-

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