White House Embraces Technology and Science-Based Decision-Making
WASHINGTON, March 16 – The White House Emerging Technologies Interagency Policy Coordination Committee (ETIPC) issued a set of broad principles that put the Obama Administration firmly on the record for supporting innovation and embracing science in federal agency decision-making.
“Innovation with respect to emerging technologies --such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and genetic engineering, among others --requires not only coordinated research and development but also appropriate and balanced oversight,” notes the memorandum, which was obtained by Agri-Pulse.
“We share a fundamental desire for regulation and oversight that ensure the fulfillment of legitimate objectives such as the protection of safety, health, and the environment. Regulation and oversight should avoid unjustifiably inhibiting innovation, stigmatizing new technologies, or creating trade barriers,” the memo continues.
The document, which was signed by John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Cass R. Sunstein, Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, and Islam A. Siddiqui, Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, was addressed to the heads of executive departments and agencies and dated March 11.
December, agricultural industry leaders expressed concerns over whether or not
USDA staff were politicizing regulations that are required to be
“science-based,” especially after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack convened
meetings to explore the topic of coexistence for Roundup Ready® Alfalfa (RRA)
and other crops. Vilsack described coexistence as a way for
genetically-modified, conventional and organic producers to all get along in the
marketplace and brought various stakeholders together prior to try to find
common ground. In late January, Vilsack decided to re-approve the planting of
the genetically modified alfalfa after years of legal and regulatory challenges
by the organic industry.
The text of the memo is below:
Subject: Principles for Regulation and Oversight of Emerging Technologies
Innovation with respect to emerging technologies --such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and genetic engineering, among others --requires not only coordinated research and development but also appropriate and balanced oversight. The White House Emerging Technologies Interagency Policy Coordination Committee (ETIPC) has developed the following broad principles, consistent with Executive Order 13563, to guide the development and implementation ofpolicies for oversight of emerging technologies at the agency level.
We share a fundamental desire for regulation.and oversight that ensure the fulfillment of legitimate objectives such as the protection of safety, health, and the environment. Regulation and oversight should avoid unjustifiably inhibiting innovation, stigmatizing new technologies, or creating trade barriers.
To advance these goals, the following principles, consistent with Executive Order 13563 and discussed and approved by the ETIPC, should be respected to the extent permitted by law:
Scientific Integrity: Federal regulation and oversight of emerging technologies should be based on the best available scientific evidence. Adequate information should be sought and developed, and new knowledge should be taken into account when it becomes available. To the extent feasible, purely scientific judgments should be separated from judgments of policy.
Public Participation: To the extent feasible and subject to valid constraints (involving, for example, national security and confidential business information), relevant information should be developed with ample opportunities for stakeholder involvement and public participation. Public participation is important for promoting accountability, for improving decisions, for increasing trust, and for ensuring that officials have access to widely dispersed information.
The Federal Government should actively communicate information to the public
regarding the potential benefits and risks associated with new technologies.
Flexibility: To the extent practicable, Federal regulation and oversight should provide sufficient flexibility to accommodate new evidence and learning and to take into account the evolving nature of infOlmation related to emerging technologies and their applications.
Cooperation: The Federal Government should encourage coordinated and
collaborative research across the international community. It should clearly
communicate the regulatory approaches and understanding of the United States to
other nations. It should promote informed choices and both sharing and
development of relevant data, particularly with respect to the benefits and
costs of regulation and oversight. The Federal Government should participate in
the development of international standards, consistent with U.S. law and
guidance (e.g., the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act and OMB
Circular A-119). When
Regulation: The Federal Government should adhere to Executive Order 13563 and, consistent with that Executive Order, the following'principles, to the extent permitted by law, when regulating emerging technologies:
should be based on the best reasonably obtainable scientific, technical,
economic, and other information, within the boundaries of the authorities and
mandates of each agency;
approaches shall comply with established requirements and guidance such as the
Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 ("NTTAA"). Public Law 104-113,
available at http://standards.gov/standards
Strategy for American Innovation: Driving Towards Sustainable Growth and Quality
Jobs" (September 2009), available at: http://www.whitehouse/. gov
Iassetsl documents/SEPT 20 Innovation Whi tepaper FINAL.pdf;