WASHINGTON -- Biotechnology industry representatives andgovernment officials reacted favorably on Tuesday to a reporton biotechnology policy issued by the President's Council onCompetitiveness.

The policy report directs federal agencies to regulate productsdeveloped through biotechnology just as they would non-biotechnology products. It also recommends that Congress notpass new laws concerning the regulation of biotechnologyproducts, and suggests instead that any loopholes in currentbiotech regulations be closed by the Bush Administration usinglaws already on the books.

"This kind of high-level attention within the Administrationshould make a difference" in clarifying the current regulatoryuncertainty now surrounding biotechnology, said IndustrialBiotechnology Association President Richard Godown.

Pamela Bridgen, Association of Biotechnology Companiesexecutive director, said the white paper "recognizes ourindustry has certain needs that must be addressed." Shepraised recommendations concerning the eligibility of smallbiotechnology companies for tax credits and the regulation offield tests of genetically engineered organisms.

Henry Miller, director of the Food and Drug Administration'sOffice of Biotechnology, said the white paper "provides anendorsement of FDA's existing policies" of not requiring morethan usual information on a product just because it is producedthrough biotechnology.

Richard Herrett, government relations scientific liaison for ICIAmericas Inc., said the white paper "recognizes the importanceof the commercialization of biotechnology."

John Cohrssen, a senior staffer with the Council onCompetitiveness, said the white paper was developed because"concerns were coming in from the industry that there was alack of focus in the regulations and they needed to be clarified."He said the council is considering developing a single set ofregulations to fill gaps in field test rules by various agenciesincluded in the 1986 Coordinated Framework for theRegulation of Biotechnology.

-- Carol Ezzell Washington Bureau Chief

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.