The home gardening season is beginning in Northern California, and with it, a public-service campaign that asks, "Have you oversprayed your garden?" The runoff of agricultural chemicals--especially fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides--directly into San Francisco Bay poses a perennial problem. What is not so obvious is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is obstructing an innovative and environmentally friendly solution.

The EPA's decision to introduce Draconian regulation of an entire class of negligible-risk crop and garden plants genetically improved with the new biotechnology has outraged the scientific community and virtually eliminated academic research and development in this sector. Building on a succession of antibiotechnology policies beginning in the mid-1980s, the EPA turned its sights several years ago on what was once one of biotechnology's most promising applications. The agency announced a policy in November 1994 that requires case-by-case regulatory review as pesticides of an entire category of products that had not...

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