It appeases neither anti-biotech activists nor the food industry, both of which have simply used USDA'S zero-tolerance policy as a rationale to impose even greater regulation and other strictures on biopharming.
Instead of punishing biopharming to the point of oblivion, we must reject the zero-tolerance mentality and approach safety scientifically and sensibly.
In 2002, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and several member companies came out strongly for stringent regulatory oversight of biopharming and agreed to voluntary but draconian restrictions on biopharmed plants.
Such occurrences should be uncommon with biopharming because, most often, the added drug-producing gene should not confer on the recipient any selective advantage and could even place it at a selective disadvantage.
Except for extraordinary circumstances (for example, biopharming of an extremely potent toxin), there is no scientific justification for the kind of rigorous oversight that USDA imposes on biopharmers today.
The testing and commercialization of gene-spliced plants are overregulated generally, and it is much too easy for antagonists of biopharming to frighten consumers with images of hazardous drugs floating in children's breakfast cereals while scientists invariably are careful to qualify their own statements and to refrain from blanket assurances that something is "safe.
These pressure groups want food plants to be off limits for biopharming, land once used to grow drug-producing crops to be dedicated solely to that purpose, and biopharmers to be indemnified against any damages they might cause under whatever scenarios their adversaries may dream up.