Wbrried that gene-splicers will create killer potatoes or rampaging soybeans? Rest easy, says a new report from the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell. The report concludes that field tests of crop plants that have been genetically altered to resist insects or disease pose little risk to the environment. It also chides the government for imposing generous restrictions for the testing and use of gene-spliced plants, but not of new varieties produced by traditional techniques. “Regulatory considerations and risk assessment of biotechnology should focus not on how a given crop plant is made, but what new traits it has and where it’s going to be used,” says the report. The notion struck a responsive chord; scientists are now considering whether some plant varieties could be made exempt from parts of the review process altogether, says Daniel Jones, deputy director of the USDA office of Agricultural Biotechnology. Based on...

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