Resolved: That the United States should substantially change its federal agricultural policy.

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Source: CongressDaily/A.M., July 14, 1999 pNA.

Title: Glickman Proposes Studying Biotech Products' Impact.(Brief
Article)

Full Text COPYRIGHT 1999 National Journal Group, Inc.

WASHINGTON -- Jul-14 -- (CongressDaily) Mindful of the growing controversy over genetically engineered crops, Agriculture Secretary Glickman announced plans Tuesday to study their long-term impact on the environment, the Associated Press reported.

Glickman stopped short of proposing that genetically altered food be labeled as such and said distrust of the crops, which is especially strong in Europe, is "scientifically unfounded."

But "with all that biotechnology has to offer, it is nothing if it's not accepted" by consumers, he told a National Press Club audience.

In addition to establishing regional research centers to study the impact of biotech products, Glickman said he would ask an independent panel of scientists to review the Agriculture Department's process for approving new seed varieties.

The USDA has so far approved 50 varieties of crops that have been engineered to be resistant to insects, herbicides or plant viruses.

Glickman's speech drew a mixed reaction from environmental groups, which fear genetically altered crops can be unhealthy, and could harm the food chain if they escape from farms into the wild.

Larry Bohlen, director of health and environmental programs for Friends of the Earth, said, "He's telling the biotech industry's line and ignoring the real environmental alarm bells that we're hearing surrounding genetic engineered products."

But Rebecca Goldburg, a scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, praised Glickman for acknowledging the importance of consumer acceptance. "He certainly admitted that these concerns are legitimate," she said.

Goldburg's group petitioned the EPA Tuesday to restrict the planting of corn that has been modified to kill a moth larva. Researchers at Cornell University recently discovered that pollen from the corn can kill the larvae of monarch butterflies.

Citing that finding, the European Commission said it would delay approval of pending requests to sell the corn variety.

 
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