New Grant Ensures Continuity of Pew Initiative Work on Agricultural Biotechnology; Program Will Continue to Look at Future Products and Regulatory System

New Grant Ensures Continuity of Pew Initiative Work on Agricultural Biotechnology; Program Will Continue to Look at Future Products and Regulatory System

A grant for $2.5 million has been awarded by the The Pew Charitable Trusts to the University of Richmond to continue the work of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. This is the third grant received by the Pew Initiative since it was established in 2001.

In recent years, the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology has produced reports, briefs and conferences to examine the controversial issues raised by the application of genetic engineering to agriculture. Topics have addressed the risks and benefits of current and future products of agricultural biotechnology, the adequacy of the U.S. regulatory system, and the challenges of marketing GM crops in a global marketplace deeply divided over acceptance of GM foods.

“We greatly appreciate the continued confidence of the Pew Charitable Trusts,” commented Michael Rodemeyer, executive director of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. “These new funds will allow us to continue providing policymakers, stakeholders and the public with resources and information that address the evolving regulatory and market challenges presented by genetically modified foods and emerging products of agricultural biotechnology.”

“We are delighted that PIFB has become an important and respected player in highlighting the issues that agricultural biotechnology raises for consumers, industry and policy makers alike,” said Maureen K. Byrnes, director of Health and Human Services and Policy Initiatives for The Pew Charitable Trusts. “The Trusts' latest investment in PIFB will ensure that efforts to address those issues will continue to make progress.”

The new grant, which will cover the eighteen months between October 2005 and March 2007, includes a robust program that will:

  • Continue to focus attention on, and provide information to assist, USDA and other federal regulatory agencies' pending efforts to reexamine how they regulate agricultural biotechnology;    
  • Take advantage of the growing interest at the state level about a variety of issues raised by agricultural biotechnology including the potential impacts on markets, the interactions between state and federal regulatory partners and ways in which adopters of different production practices can coexist; and    
  • Highlight for public discussion the issues unique to future products of biotechnology such as pharmaceutical crops, transgenic animals and insects.

Additionally, the Pew Initiative will continue to track consumer opinion, update fact sheets on transgenic crops, and host public policy debates that respond to timely developments.

Staff Changes

Commencement of work on the third grant will coincide with several staff changes that become effective October 1.

Michael Fernandez, currently the Director for Science with the Pew Initiative, will assume the position of Executive Director and manage day-to-day operations of the Pew Initiative. Michael Rodemeyer, the Initiative's founding director, will continue to work part-time on a number of Initiative projects while writing and consulting on other projects. Kara Flynn has rejoined the Pew Initiative as Director of Communications after working with the National Pork Producers Council for the past three years. Kimberly Brooks, the current Director of Communications, will leave the Pew Initiative at the end of September to pursue other projects.

Read more about the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology as well as its research and events on The Pew Charitable Trusts Website.