Federal agencies are woefully understaffed and lacking in the resources needed to deal with the flood of biotechnology products coming in the next decade, scientists said in a March 9 webinar.
The Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture should identify products that could serve as pilot projects to develop new approaches to assess risks and benefits and to inform regulatory decisions, the speakers said. The webinar responded to a controversial from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released that morning, which concentrated on biotech food products.
These agencies should increase their scientific capabilities, tools and expertise in key areas of expected growth, the NAS committee that conducted the study and wrote the report said. The report was sponsored by the FDA, EPA and USDA.
More types of organisms will likely be engineered, the report noted, and the kinds of traits introduced through biotechnology will also increase. Some future biotechnology products are likely to use genome-editing techniques such as CRISPR, which allows scientists to efficiently disable or remove genes associated with human disease or boost crop resistance to disease and pests.