WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 28, 2007) – Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Executive Vice President for Food and Agriculture Sharon Bomer Lauritsen today issued the following statement on the forward movement of food safety guidelines for agricultural biotechnology by the Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology in Chiba, Japan:
“On behalf of the Biotechnology Industry Organization and our members, I commend the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s Task Force on Biotechnology and its member governments for moving forward on critical standards to promote the safety of products of agricultural plant and animal biotechnology. Today, the Codex Alimentarius Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology reached consensus on and progressed an annex to the Codex Plant Guideline that addresses safety assessments in situations of low-level presence of recombinant-DNA plant material (Annex). The Task Force also agreed on the components of an online database to enable information sharing among Codex member countries to facilitate expedited safety assessments of biotech-derived plant material. The Task Force on Biotechnology also approved a guideline for food safety risk assessment for genetically engineered animals, and agreed to move the guidelines forward for adoption by the Codex Commission at its next session.
“BIO and its members applaud Codex’s commitment to continuing to ensure food safety for consumers, farmers, food processors, livestock suppliers, and grain handlers. BIO also thanks the U.S. and allied governments for successfully urging adoption of, and moving forward on these international standards by Codex. In regard to the forward-movement of the Annex, BIO also praises the Codex Working Group on Low Level Presence, including its co-chairs of the United States, Germany, and Thailand, as well as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) for expeditiously advancing the Annex and database over the last year since it was approved by the Task Force in November 2006.”
“The Annex is essential to continue to provide for uninterrupted international trade while regulating incidental or trace amounts of biotechnology-enhanced events in commercial seeds and grains. The Annex recognizes that low-level presence is a natural part of plant biology, seed production, and the distribution of commodity crops, and is not a safety issue.”
“The guideline for food safety risk assessments of genetically engineered animals is the first international standard of its kind. This precedent-setting guideline will be a springboard for the United States and other countries, as they develop their science-based regulatory processes to ensure that use of the tools of molecular biology to allow precise modification of the animal genome, will advance the production of safe animal food products.”
“BIO and its members hope that Codex will continue to expedite review and approval of these science-based guidelines in order to maintain an international system to regulate modern agricultural biotechnology.”
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the global event for biotechnology. www.bio.org