Why do we regulate GMOs like chemicals, not living things?

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The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

. . . . In 1983, the National Research Council published a report nicknamed the Red Book, which first codified risk assessment for federal agencies. . .

. . . .

These reports were written. . . with chemicals in mind, but they eventually served as a framework for assessing risks in living things, too, from GMOs to invasive species. . . . “. . . [L]iving organisms have two features that chemicals don’t. One is they evolve in unpredictable ways, and second is they usually have autonomous means of dispersing,” [says Daniel Simberloff, an ecologist.]

In other words, a chemical will behave in a fairly predictable way, breaking down into the environment. Organisms have the opportunity to do the opposite: they are able to reproduce.

Related article:  GLP interactive infographic: Which GMO experts should you trust?

. . . .

A codified biological risk assessment is certainly possible. . .

“It’s not that we can’t do biological assessments — we’ve been doing them for a long time. It’s when we piece together such an ad hoc collection of assessments on microbes, plants, animals,” says Jaydee Hanson, a senior policy analyst at the advocacy group Center for Food Safety. . . .

. . . .

So what’s the best way to regulate biological innovations? And how should the framework change?

Read full, original post: The Tricky Business of Regulating Biology

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