Biotechnology:

Analysis of Federally Funded Research

RCED-86-187: Published: Aug 8, 1986. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO analyzed data on federal support for biotechnology research in fiscal year 1985 at five federal agencies, specifically the amount of money obligated and the number of projects funded for: (1) agencywide activity for research and development; (2) biotechnology-related research; and (3) biotechnology risk assessment research. GAO also analyzed the agencies' definitions of biotechnology.

GAO found that: (1) each agency defined biotechnology differently; (2) the agencies undertook biotechnology research to understand biological processes and phenomena, to devise, apply, or improve products and processes, or to develop information to assess potential risks with new products and processes; and (3) a small number of the projects involved direct risk assessment. The Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service received $470 million for 2,300 research and development (R&D) projects and $24.5 million for 150 biotechnology research projects, of which between 4 and 27 were for risk assessment research. The USDA Cooperative State Research Service received $284 million for 12,250 R&D projects and $48.4 million for 750 biotechnology research projects, of which 22 were for risk assessment research. The Environmental Protection Agency received $320 million for R&D projects and $1.5 million for 19 biotechnology research projects, all of which involved risk assessment research. The Food and Drug Administration received $82 million for R&D projects and $2.6 million for 17 biotechnology research projects, of which only 1 involved risk assessment research. The National Institutes of Health received $4.8 billion for 30,000 R&D projects and $1.8 billion for 62 biotechnology research projects, of which 5 involved risk assessment research. The National Science Foundation received $1.3 billion for 14,157 R&D projects and $81 million for 1,621 to 1,773 biotechnology research projects, of which 8 to 225 involved risk assessment.

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