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BRAG to the rescue

December 22, 2015  By Quentin Dodd

As a part of its Research, Education, and Economics Action Plan, USDA describes the BRAG program as follows: “The purpose of the BRAG program is to support the generation of new information that will assist Federal regulatory agencies in making science-based decisions about the environmental effects of introducing organisms genetically engineered (GE) by recombinant nucleic acid techniques. Such organisms can include plants, microorganisms (including fungi, bacteria, and viruses), arthropods, fish, birds, mammals and other animals excluding humans. Investigations of effects on both managed and natural environments are relevant.

The BRAG program accomplishes its purpose by providing Federal regulatory agencies with relevant scientific information. The program supports applied and/or fundamental research relevant to environmental risk assessment, including biological risk, and the Federal regulatory process.

When evaluating genetically engineered organisms, Federal regulators must answer the following four general questions:

•  Is there a hazard? (Potential hazard identification);


•  How likely is the hazard to occur? (Quantifying the probability of occurrence; identifying likely exposure scenarios);

•  What is the severity and extent of the hazard if it occurs? (Quantifying the effects); and

• Is there an effect above and beyond what might occur with an unmodified organism or an organism that has similar traits, but was developed using other technologies?

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is currently soliciting applications for the BRAG program in the following areas:

(1) Priority Research Proposals (2) Standard Research Proposals (3) Conference Proposals

Readers interested in additional information, including submitting an application for funding under the BRAG program should go to the USDA NIFA website and search for the BRAG program: http://nifa.usda.gov/ 

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