Biotechnology:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Biotechnology Research Efforts

RCED-86-39BR: Published: Oct 25, 1985. Publicly Released: Oct 25, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on the extent of the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) biotechnology research efforts at USDA research facilities and USDA-funded facilities at state agriculture experiment stations and universities.

GAO found that USDA is partially or wholly funding 778 biotechnology research projects at a cost of $40.5 million. State agricultural experiment stations and veterinary colleges reported that: (1) they conducted 495 USDA-funded projects during fiscal year (FY) 1984; (2) they used a variety of biotechnology techniques in the research; (3) recombinant DNA was used in 54 percent of the projects; (4) 18 percent of the projects were expected to involve the deliberate release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment; and (5) scientists anticipated no problems from the planned releases or expected that any problems arising from the experiments would be controllable. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) reported that it was conducting 183 biotechnology research projects with an estimated FY 1985 cost of $26.4 million; however, it did not identify the biotechnology research techniques used or specify which projects were expected to result in the deliberate release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment. The USDA Office of Grants and Program Systems reported that it funded 145 biotechnology research projects at a cost of $4.8 million in FY 1984. GAO found that: (1) 45 of these projects duplicated state agricultural experiment station and ARS projects; (2) recombinant DNA was the prevalent technique used; and (3) 4 of the projects are expected to involve a deliberate release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment.

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