The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) research portfolio, worth more than $2 billion, ought to emphasize genomics and transgenic technology to enhance the well-being of the environment and the health of people, according to a National Research Council report issued December 10. The 239-page assessment, "Frontiers in Agricultural Research: Food, Health, Environment and Communities," was ordered by Congress in 1998, to determine where USDA's Research, Education, & Economics (REE) program should focus its efforts.

The report "is pushing the edge of where USDA agriculture research needs to head," said Lonnie King, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, and a member of the NRC Committee on Opportunities in Agriculture that produced the report.

The chapter devoted to "research frontiers" speaks in general terms of the need for USDA's research to develop, "Techniques for modifying plant and animal genomes, building models and systems analyses that...

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