Re Regulating Gene Splicers

Back in the early 1980s, when researchers first proposed splicing new genes into such crops as corn, they touched off widespread fears of dangerous mutant plants. One result was tight government regulations. But after hundreds of tests--and no evidence of killer tomatoes--the Bush Administration proposed easing the rules.

Now, the Clinton Administration plans to raise the bar again--slightly. Proposed rules issued on Mar. 31 would require researchers to notify the government at least 30 days before a test and would not permit universities to approve any tests. Industry's response is favorable. Moderate regulation will help convince the public that these gene-altered products are safe, executives say.