The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reduced the charges it filed against Advanced Genetic Sciences Inc. of Oakland for having tested genetically engineered bacteria on its rooftop and has lowered the amount of a proposed fine from $20,000 to $13,000.
The action clears the way for the firm to work toward reinstatement of its license for testing the microorganism in the environment. The EPA has told the company to repeat the disputed rooftop tests in a greenhouse before the license is renewed.
Advanced Genetic Sciences President Joseph Bouckaert said Friday, "While we may have misunderstood the notice requirements set forth by the agency regarding preliminary testing of microbial pesticides at our research facilities, AGS is committed to take steps to assure that, in the future, it conducts its work in full accord with EPA guidelines."
The EPA suspended that license in March when an Advanced Genetic Sciences employee revealed that the firm had injected the engineered bacteria--which is designed to prevent frost formation at temperatures slightly below freezing--into trees on its rooftop in violation of EPA guidelines, which did not permit use of the organism outside a laboratory.