C “Dear Colleague” Letter
The National Research Council Committee on Environmental Effects Associated with Commercialization of Transgenic Plants is seeking your input on identifying specific environmental issues associated with plant biotechnology. Please read the following letter from the chair of the committee explaining how you can contribute to this study by providing the committee with your perspective on this topic.
The letter is also attached as a file in several formats for your use as needed.
Karen L. Imhof
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources
Ph: (202) 334-3062
Fax: (202) 334-1978
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
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
assessment of cumulative effects on agricultural and non-agricultural environments.
Evaluate the need for and approaches to environmental monitoring and validation processes.
We would appreciate it if you would help us meet this charge. We are committed to getting sufficiently broad input to ensure that all important perspectives and information are considered. Please send us a concise letter describing what you see as specific environmental issues associated with plant biotechnology that need attention. We would be particularly appreciative if you would emphasize potential positive and/or negative impacts that you think are underrepresented in most discussions of plant biotechnology. Please send your letter via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your letter may also be faxed to him at 202–334–1978.
It would be very helpful to us if you could return your letter by September 5th. We are planning to have a second meeting in October and will need some time to assess outside information such as that in your letter. If we have follow-up questions regarding your letter, we may contact you by phone or e-mail, or we may request that you present more details directly to our committee in October.
If you have a colleague or friend who is likely to have a novel perspective on these issues, we would appreciate your forwarding this letter to that person. While we are not trying to assess the weight of public opinion, we are trying to identify the diversity of perspectives in relation to our charge.
Attached you will find a committee membership list. You may also want to visit the National Academies’ Current Projects website at http://www4.nas.edu/cp.nsf for further information* about our committee, and the Academy’s standing committee on Biotechnology, Food and Fiber Production, and the Environment, which is examining a broader range of biotechnology related issues.
Please call Kim Waddell or Karen Imhof at 202–334–3062 if you need further information, or assistance with transmitting your letter. Your efforts will be appreciated.
On Behalf of the Committee,