Concerned that experimental genetically modified (GM) crops could contaminate their unaltered counterparts and creep into the nation’s food supply, the White House has drafted new rules to protect consumers and avoid costly and disruptive food recalls. The rules, which were written by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, propose preliminary crop-safety assessments before beginning large field trials of GM crops. The assessments, which would not be mandatory, would determine whether the crop was toxic or capable of causing allergic reactions. If the crop appeared safe, then low levels of GM contamination in the food supply would not be a basis for recalls — or, the government hopes, for the rejection of U.S. food exports by other countries. The biotech industry welcomed the proposals, but the Center for Food Safety, a Washington, D.C., organization that opposes GM foods, expressed concern that the rules were just designed to bail out companies should contamination occur.

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