EDUCATION: Science of Biotech Safety

Science  03 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5603, pp. 25
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5603.25b

Are they safe? That's the burning question about genetically modified organisms. Biotechnology Risk Assessment, a site created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida, attempts to show college students, teachers, and the general public how regulators make that decision. The site starts by explaining the nuts and bolts of genetic engineering and answering basic questions about the regulation of genetically engineered organisms, such as which agencies are responsible for safety decisions—in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Agriculture. The following sections dig deeper into the subtle science of risk assessment. Experts summarize what we know and don't know about the environmental and health impact of organisms such as fish engineered for faster growth and crops that carry genes for herbicide resistance.

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