Thursday, July 2, 2015

Recoordinated Framework

Timed perfectly to be lost amidst the Independence Day weekend celebrations, the White House announced that the regulatory framework that has governed biotechnology in the United States for the past 29 years - the hopefully-named "Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology" - will be reviewed over the next year.  The July 2, 2015, announcement was promulgated via both an Office of Science and Technology Policy blogpost entitled "Improving transparency and ensuring continued safety in biotechnology" and in the Memorandum for Heads of Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Agriculture.  The Memorandum announces the purpose of the review as follows:
Our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation. This memorandum initiates a process to modernize the Federal regulatory system for the products of biotechnology and to establish mechanisms for periodic updates of that system. The objectives are to ensure public confidence in the regulatory system and to prevent unnecessary barriers to future innovation and competitiveness by improving the transparency, coordination, predictability, and efficiency of the regulation of biotechnology products while continuing to protect health and the environment.
Advances in biotechnology, in general, and in synthetic biology, genetic engineering, genome editing, gene therapy, cloning, embryonic stem cell biology, and, most recently, deextinction, in particular, appear to have raised the level of public anxiety surrounding biology.

One can only hope that any new federal biotechnology regulatory framework resulting from this federal review will ensure as many societal benefits in the future as biology has delivered over the past three decades.  After all, "Better Living Through Chemistry" was long ago displaced by "Better Living Through Biology."  

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