In response to NPPB's suggestion, APS along with 10 other scientific societies, challenged the EPA's proposed rule that called plant disease resistance genes "pesticides". As a result of this challenge, EPA has backed off from this terminology. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, then commissioned a report on this and other items related to the use of biotechnology. This report will be discussed at the APS annual meeting in New Orleans in a session chaired by Jim Cook, a member of NPPB.
NPPB members interviewed public affairs officers of a number of scientific societies, including the American Microbiological Society, the American Society of Plant Physiologists, and the tri-societies of Agronomy, Crop Science and Soil Science to learn of their activities in the areas of education and lobbying of agencies of the Federal Government, including Congress. Without exception, these people all felt that a Washington "presence" was valuable to the members of the scientific societies that they represented.
Two members of the NPPB were invited to participate in a briefing session of the State Department regarding biotechnology and its potential uses in less-developed countries.
The potential for APS to be of value to anti-terrorism activities was discussed with Randall Murch, a plant pathologist, who works for the FBI and Department of Defense. The potential for introduction of foreign pathogens that could cause great havoc in the production and marketing of some of our major crops is considered to be a real possibility. Plant Disease Diagnostic labs run by many departments and government agencies may be able to play a role in early detection of any such introductions. The NPPB will maintain contacts with Dr. Murch to develop additional information as to how plant pathologists can be of assistance in this effort.
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