A White House panel representing 15 government agencies plans to publish within two weeks its new proposal for a mechanism to coordinate the scientific work of the individual agencies that now regulate the commercial products of biotechnology.
The proposal, now under review within the White House and the Office of Management and Budget, recommends creating a Biotechnology Science Coordinating Committee with members representing the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Federal Drug Administration and the National Science Foundation, said David T. Kingsbury, working chairman of the White House group.
Although the individual agencies would conduct their own scientific evaluations of specific products and experiments, the coordinating committee would provide a forum for addressing broader scientific issues common to the agencies, said Kinsbury, an NSF assistant director of biological and behavioral sciences.
The committee would be a means to share information, facilitate interagency cooperation and achieve some consistency in agency approaches, he said.
The proposed committee would be part of the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, which is part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. This proposal would eliminate last year's administration proposal last year to create a Biotechnology Science Board in the Health & Human Services Department.
The White House panel on biotechnology would continue to address questions of regulatory policy, Kingsbury said. The individual regulatory agencies hope to publish detailed descriptions of their own biotech regulatory policies on Jan. 31, he added.