Critics Skeptical of USDA Biotech Meetings
Date: FEBRUARY 08, 1988

WASHINGTON - The Department of Agriculture is hoping that a series of meetings this spring will demonstrate its desire to learn more about biotechnology research and strengthen its role in federal regulatory efforts. But some observers view the four regional conferences as a slick way to promote existing programs.

"It seems like a lot of this business is a cynical way of getting public approval for doing what they want to do," said Robert Stevenson, director of the American Type Culture Collection, which maintains a germ plasma bank. Stevenson, who last spring attended a national conference on public conception of biotechnology that USDA sponsored, said he and others were disturbed by the uncritical attitudes toward USDA policies at that meeting.

Ron Buckhalt, director of USDA's public liaison office, defended the upcoming conferences which will feature scientists,...

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