WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 2, 2003) – Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Vice President for Food and Agriculture Val Giddings today issued the following statement regarding the vote taken by the European Parliament concerning traceability and labeling of foods derived from crops improved through biotechnology:
"BIO wholeheartedly supports the stated intent of the new biotech rules voted on today by the European Parliament. The intent of these rules is to provide European Union (EU) consumers with the opportunity to choose foods improved through biotechnology, or their alternatives, and to enable EU politicians to end the moratorium on approvals of biotech-derived products that has been in place now for more than four years.
"While BIO recognizes and appreciates the EU efforts to create a functional regulatory system, our customers among the farming and food producing communities tell us the new traceability and labeling standards are impractical. Impartial observers can see they are not scientifically defensible. We are concerned that these new rules may not, in fact, enable European consumers to enjoy the opportunity to choose foods derived from crops improved through biotechnology. It seems more likely that the new regulations will drive food manufacturers to re-formulate to shun biotech derived ingredients altogether as their only effective means of avoiding the impractical burdens the new regulations would impose. If this happens, as we fear, the result would be to replace an overt moratorium with a technical barrier to trade that would be no less indefensible.
"BIO urges the EU Parliament, therefore, as a matter of urgency, to examine the practicality of the new rules, with an eye to providing European consumers the actual opportunity to choose which they are presently denied. Such action would enable European farmers, consumers, and the environment to enjoy the considerable benefits crops improved through biotechnology are already delivering every where else in the world they are being grown."
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. For more information on BIO, visit our website at www.bio.org.