The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Office of Inspector General (IG) has issued an audit report criticizing USDA agencies for lacking coordinated oversight of regulations behind research and development of genetically engineered (GE) animals and insects. The agencies conduct and fund research into how GE animals can enhance the productivity of food animals and how GE insects can reduce problems posed by agricultural pests, according to the report.

Among its criticisms, the report faults the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for not developing regulations for GE animals and insects that pertain specifically to their introduction for “import, interstate movement, or field release.” Noting that “APHIS program units focusing on biotechnology and animal health, respectively, had not coordinated with one another to prioritize the development of a regulatory framework for GE animals and insects,” the report states that consequently “the requirements that apply to these organisms were not clear to researchers and the public.”

Food & Water Watch has called for a similar IG review of the Food and Drug Administration’s research process for GE animals.“They should start with asking why the approval of genetically engineered salmon for human consumption is being approved as a veterinary drug,” said the group’s executive director Wenonah Hauter. See Food & Water Watch Press Release, June 14, 2011.