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Executive Summary

WHITE HOUSE CABINET COUNCIL WORKING GROUP ON BIOTECHNOLOGY could function as a federal interagency biotechnology coordinating cmte., a report commissioned by the Natl. Science Foundation (NSF) suggests. "A central interagency coordinating group is needed with overall responsibility for coordination and development of federal biotechnology policies," the report advises. "The establishment of the Cabinet Council Working Group on Biotechnology may be a first step in this direction." The newly established White House working group is responsible for the review of federal regulatory rules and procedures relating to biotechnology. NSF, HHS and 10 other federal agencies are represented in the working group. The interagency coordinating group could "centralize" existing federal biotechnology information exchange and policy setting activities, the report says. The report asserts that the function and scope of existing interagency groups, such as NIH's Recombinant DNA Advisory Cmte. (RAC) are "limited to certain well-defined aspects of biotechnology." Establishment of a federal interagency cmte. is one of six options suggested by the report to improve biotechnoloy information exchange and coordination among federal agencies. Other recommendations include expansion of the role and function of NIH's Office of Recombinant DNA Activities and the modification of federal databases to include biotechnology-related information. In addition, the study backs the creation of ad hoc working groups to foster informal information exchange among agencies as well as interagency exchange of technical personnel, such as short-term "detailing" of NIH staff to other federal agencies. NSF also recommends that special and regularly scheduled workshops and symposia on biotechnology, patterned after a 1982-83 seminar series sponsored by the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science and the Environmental Protection Agency, be held. The study was conducted by Boston-based research and consulting firm Arthur D. Little.

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