May 18, 2011
On Monday, May 16, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) published a notice or intent and request for nominations in the Federal Register for the National Genetic Resources Advisory Council. The Council has been dormant but is in the process of being re-established. Its purpose is to formulate recommendations on actions and policies with respect to the federal collection, maintenance, conservation, and utilization of genetic resources. The Council’s deals with the full range of agriculturally relevant life forms: plants, animals, insects, microbes, forest species, and aquatics.
USDA is looking for nominations for members of the Advisory Council. Members will be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture and serve four year terms. Of the nine public members of the Council, six will represent scientific disciplines including agricultural, environmental, health, and nutritional sciences, and three will represent the public policy, trade, and international development fields.
The Federal Register notice notes in particular that the Secretary in particular seeks persons who can provide “suggestions on how USDA can tailor its programs to maintain the purity of non-GE genetics from germplasm to commercial use; and improve stewardship practices and develop new tools to lessen the risk of gene flow in agricultural commodities.”
The Council’s Executive Secretary will be Robert Burk, the USDA Executive Director of the Research, Education, and Economics Advisory Board Office. Nominations should be sent to him, as explained further in the Federal Register notice.
The Council was established by the research title of the 1990 Farm Bill. It met and functioned from 1992 through 1999, but then went dormant.