GAO Issues Report on Agency Coordination

Report shows improvement but says more can be done.

Published on: Dec 9, 2008

A Government Accountability Office study released Friday shows that coordination and oversight between the USDA, Food and Drug Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency on genetically engineered organisms has improved. Still, GAO says efforts can be taken to strengthen the regulatory system to enhance its effectiveness.

First, the GAO recommends that the results of FDA’s early food safety evaluations of novel proteins engineered into plants be made publicly available. Second, the GAO recommends that USDA and FDA resources be better utilized to address food safety issues from GE crops during field tests. The GAO also recommends that the three agencies should develop a risk-based strategy for monitoring unintended consequences associated with the widespread use of GE crops.

The GAO study was conducted at the request of the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Committee. Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa responded to the report by saying it is encouraging to see these agencies coordinating oversight of GE crops. Yet, he says, according to the GAO, they should increase safeguards to ensure maximum transparency and to decrease impacts of contamination.