thusiastic support from some quarters and strong disapproval from others. To address the perception that rDNA techniques might be intrinsically dangerous, the report offered the following conclusions:

  • point 1 “There is no evidence that unique hazards exist either in the use of rDNA techniques or in the movement of genes between unrelated organisms.”

  • point 2 “The risks associated with the introduction of rDNA-engineered organisms are the same in kind as those associated with the introduction of unmodified organisms and organisms modified by other methods.”

  • point 3 “Assessment of the risks of introducing rDNA-engineered organisms into the environment should be based on the nature of the organism and the environment into which it is introduced, not on the method by which it was produced.”

Throughout this report, the committee describes various methods of both conventional and transgenic breeding methods in detail to provide relevant information about their similarities and differences. Some of the similarities and differences in properties of plants produced by varied genetic approaches are presented in box 2.1. Properties of conventional pest-protected plants are discussed, but the committee focuses on risks and benefits that may be posed by growing transgenic pest-protected plants commercially and on their regulatory oversight under the coordinated framework for regulation of genetically engineered organisms.

The 1987 NAS report noted that the risks associated with rDNA-engineered organisms are “the same in kind” as those associated with unmodified organisms and organisms modified by other methods. The committee agrees with that statement for pest-protected plants in that both transgenic and conventional plants may pose certain risks and the resulting plant phenotypes are often similar. Transgenic breeding techniques can be used to obtain the same resistance phenotype as conventional methods (for example resistance to microbial pathogens, nematodes, and insects). Because both methods have the potential to produce organisms of high or low risk, the committee agrees that

The properties of a genetically modified organism should be the focus of risk assessments, not the process by which it was produced (point 3).

In this regard, the committee found that

There is no strict dichotomy between, or new categories of, the health and environmental risks that might be posed by transgenic and conventional pest-protected plants.

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