THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Engineering

Institute of Medicine

National Research Council

Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

August 18, 2000

Dear Colleague,

The National Research Council recently established a committee to examine “Environmental Effects Associated with Commercialization of Transgenic Plants”. Our committee held its first meeting on July 15th and 16th, 2000, during which we clarified our goals and approaches to meeting this charge. Our committee is now in the phase of gathering information. The final product from our deliberations will be a detailed report.

Our committee has broad expertise in environmental sciences, agriculture and other relevant areas. However, we think it is essential for us to seek input from individuals with diverse perspectives on environmental issues, so that we don’t miss important insights. We are contacting you based on your previous interest in issues related to plant biotechnology.

The goals of our committee are as follows:

We will review the scientific basis that supports the scope and adequacy of USDA’s oversight of environmental issues related to current and anticipated transgenic plants and their products.

In order to address these issues, the committee will:

Evaluate the scientific premises and assumptions underpinning the environmental regulation and oversight of transgenic plants. This evaluation will include comparison of the processes and products of genetic engineering with those of conventional plant breeding as they pertain to environmental risks. This evaluation may result in recommendations for research relevant to environmental oversight and effects of transgenic plants.

Assess the relevant scientific and regulatory literature in order to evaluate the scope and adequacy of APHIS’ 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 assessment (EA) of those effects. The study will also provide guidance on the assessment of non-target effects, appropriate tests for environmental evaluation, and



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