The Future of Biotech: Study Suggests Agencies Not Prepared for Future Biotech Products

20:00 EDT 12 Mar 2017 | Meridian Institute

A United States National Academies of Sciences report, “Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology,” released Thursday, notes that while new biotechnology products are likely to come at a breakneck pace over the next decade, federal regulatory agencies may not be able to keep up. The next generation of biotech agricultural products are expected to use gene editing techniques and gene drives. "The scale, scope, complexity, and tempo of biotechnology products are likely to increase in the next five to 10 years," the report stated. "Many products will be similar to existing biotechnology products, but they may be created through new processes, and some products may be wholly unlike products that exist today." The NAS report included recommendations meant to address the expected growth of the biotechnology industry. The authors suggested the regulatory system include a “single point of entry” for biotech products. Richard Murray, a professor of control and dynamical systems and bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology and one of the authors of the report, said such a concept is critical. "A single point of entry might enable federal agencies to decide early in the product development cycle which [regulatory] authorities are relevant," he said. The report said the existing regulatory system is "complex and fragmented, resulting in a system that can be difficult for individuals, nontraditional organizations, and small- and medium-size enterprises to navigate.” The committee also offered three main recommendations regarding biotechnology regulation: Federal regulatory agencies should ramp up scientific expertise in areas of expected biotechnology growth; Increase investment in federal agency research that would improve their ecological risk assessments and benefit analyses of future biotech products; and, Agencies that fund biotechnology research should increase investments in regulatory science and link research and education activities to regulatory science activities.

Original Article: The Future of Biotech: Study Suggests Agencies Not Prepared for Future Biotech Products


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