This is the third in a series of Agency background papers for the Agriculture Update (not including the overview). This paper discuss the Environmental Protection Agency and concerns of environmental pollution and reviews and registers toxic materials both at the level of use and as residues in food, air and water. The paper is a product of the Agriculture Update Committee.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services protects public health by regulating domestically produced and imported human and animal drugs, biologics, medical devices, food and animal feed, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine (comprised of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and the Center for Veterinary Medicine) is charged with ensuring that the food supply is safe, sanitary, wholesome, and honestly labeled.

Plant Breeding

Plant breeding is not a new technology. Since man first domesticated plants, plant growers have selectively used seed from crops with desirable qualities, choosing seed from the sturdiest plant, the largest or tastiest fruit. Following the work of Gregor Mendel, in the mid-19th century, plant breeders learned how to crossbreed compatible types of plants, creating hybrids that combined the best features of both parent plants.