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New Government Website Meant to Clarify GMO Regulations Does Little to Answer Lingering Questions

FDA, USDA, and EPA all control different parts of the complicated oversight process.

On Thursday, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the launch of a new joint website, meant to function as a one-stop shop for understanding complex biotechnology regulations. This category of food includes genetically modified plants and animals, as well as foods producing gene-editing technologies (or not—more on that later). 

The Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation is a gleaming, if rather simple, resource. One page outlines the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, government-speak for a system first established in 1986 that clarifies each agency’s role in regulating bio-engineered plants, animals, and microorganisms. (The same page also displays a delightfully uninformative triple Venn diagram made up of overlapping ovals that represent the USDA, the EPA, and the FDA. Each oval is labeled with the block-lettered name of an agency and nothing else.) 

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