Genetic engineering promises a harvest of new foods, from rot-resistant tomatoes to healthier oils. But for years, the Food & Drug Administration couldn't decide how to regulate biotech grub. The central issue: Should gene-tinkered foods be appraised like traditional products, or do they require special scrutiny?

Now, the Administration has readied a proposed policy that says gene-spliced foods don't require any special regulation. That decision should be popular with business but could raise the hackles of environmentalists, who want closer regulation of the new industry.

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