Unwisdom from the Academy

Illustration: A.Canamucio A long-awaited report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation of recombinant DNA-manipulated plants that was released last month has been interpreted in contradictory ways. The Washington Post reported that "crops that are genetically engineered to produce their own pesticides appear to be safe," and CBS news observed that the NAS review was "the closest thing to a seal of approval gene-altered foods have

Henry Miller
May 1, 2000

Illustration: A.Canamucio

A long-awaited report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation of recombinant DNA-manipulated plants that was released last month has been interpreted in contradictory ways. The Washington Post reported that "crops that are genetically engineered to produce their own pesticides appear to be safe," and CBS news observed that the NAS review was "the closest thing to a seal of approval gene-altered foods have ever received." Not surprisingly, therefore, many of those long opposed to biotechnology promptly denounced it as "junk science." However, the always-antibiotech Environmental Defense had a still different take, interpreting the report as condemning too-lenient regulation by the government. Its creative press release headline was "Scientific Panel Calls For Stronger Controls on Biotechnology; Short-Sighted Government Approach Fails to Protect Long-Term Public Interest."

Skepticism about the NAS report is justified, but for reasons different from those the antitechnology activists...

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