The Food and Drug Administration will publish draft guidelines today that would encourage companies to submit voluntary safety evaluations of bioengineered food crops that sometimes drift and cross-pollinate with
plants in nearby fields.

The biotech industry welcomed the new approach, but environmental and food-safety advocates called it a poor substitute for the rigorous testing they have sought before the planting of scientifically engineered crops that could enter the nation’s food supply.

Under the new FDA guidelines, which are to be published in the Federal Register, companies also would be asked to conduct a voluntary safety evaluation and submit it to the agency. Critics of bioengineered crops have called instead for full-scale, mandatory safety testing and prohibiting the introduction of new biotech foods without detailed FDA certification that they are safe.

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