Viewpoint: How should EPA regulate next-generation GMO Bt insect resistant crops? Proposals left over from Trump Administration don’t all align with the science

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Credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images
Credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

[T]he Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two proposals that would modify its oversight of plant incorporated protectants (PIPs), which are genes engineered into plants that allow those plants to produce insecticidal compounds in their tissues rather than requiring insecticides be applied externally.

On September 8, 2020, EPA proposed changing the risk management requirements that were put in place to prevent insects from becoming resistant to PIPs. Then on October 9, 2020, EPA proposed revisions to its regulations for PIPs to exempt low-risk products made with newer biotechnologies. 

Neither proposal was finalized before President Trump left office in January, leaving final decisions on these proposals to the incoming Biden Administration. 

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The Biden Administration should neither fully adopt the EPA proposals nor throw them out and start all over. Both proposals include science-based components and would improve the existing oversight. However, both proposals also include provisions that are not based on scientific evidence and seem designed to reduce regulatory burden at the expense of possible adverse environmental and/or human health impacts. EPA should review these proposals, seek input from reputable and independent scientists, and revise them as needed.

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