- Report Published -
|A Virginia Biotechnology Research Act|
|Secretary of Commerce and Trade|
|HJR 516 (Regular Session, 1993)|
|House Joint Resolution 516, 1993 (Appendix A), patroned by Delegate Franklin P. Hall of Richmond (69th District) and co-patroned by 16 other members of the general Assembly, requested that the Secretary of Economic Development (now Commerce and Trade) conduct a study of the value of enacting a biotechnology research act for the Commonwealth. The field of biotechnology is rapidly creating jobs and revenues for jurisdictions across the nation. It has enormous potential to benefit many fields of human endeavor, including agriculture, health care, and environmental protection.|
Present and pending research in Virginia makes this study most timely. Already, some 40 or more companies, university research centers, agricultural producers, and other organizations in Virginia are engaged in biotechnology research and development activities, with commercialization on the horizon. As more biotechnology organizations become interested either in expanding or in locating in the Commonwealth, the climate for research, testing, and, ultimately, commercialization of their products will significantly influence the benefits to the Commonwealth from this activity. While some of the Commonwealth's future efforts will focus on attracting outside industry to locate here, it will also be important to support existing businesses already established.
Biotechnology in the broad sense is a group of technologies that utilize living organisms to make or modify products to improve plants or animals, or to develop microorganisms for specific uses. The term biotechnology, in a narrower sense and often modified by "new," may be defined as a useful technology enabling the precise transfer of specific genetic information from one organism to another, as well as precise modification in the expression of genetic information within an organism, to create desirable end results (see Appendices D & E). After nearly two decades of research and development, biotechnology has an exemplary safety record. A report from a 1992 international meeting to review field tests with genetically engineered organisms concluded "...hundreds of field experiments in many countries have been reported, and so far no harmful events to our environment were detected. No adverse consequences have resulted from work for more than 15 years in laboratories and in over 500 field releases." Nonetheless, the need to proceed with caution in the application of this science remains a priority with the public.