A cutting report issued by the Department of Agriculture’s auditor has accused the Department of failing to sufficiently regulate field trials of genetically engineered crops, raising the risk that they may be unintentionally released into the environment.

A report in The New York Times revealed today (3 January) that biotechnology regulators did not always notice violations of their own rules, did not inspect planting sites and did not assure that the genetically engineered crops were destroyed when the field trial was completed.

These procedural weaknesses, the report said,”increase the risk that genetically engineered organisms will inadvertently persist in the environment before they are deemed safe to grow without regulation.”

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, responsible for the regulation of biotech field trials, said that it was already taking steps to adopt some of the recommendations made by the inspector general, and that more changes were on the way.