WASHINGTON, D.C. -- (Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, issued the following statement in advance of the Food and Drug Administration's upcoming hearing on foods derived from biotechnology. The hearing, scheduled for November 18 in Chicago, is the first in a series of three):
ôFor the last 20 years, biotechnology has brought breakthrough drugs and vaccines to help patients with such diseases as cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, and cystic fibrosis. These therapies and cures have gained acceptance after years of testing and FDA review.
ôNow, agricultural biotechnology is seeing the same pattern of resistance that greeted the introduction of biotechnology into medicine.
ôWhen biotech companies established drug research labs in the 1970s, the new technology brought forth questions and protests. Some people had thoughtful questions. Others challenged the science because they didn't like change. But today, no one can deny the benefits biotech medicines have brought to more than 200 million people suffering from or threatened by serious and life-threatening diseases.
ôIntroducing any new technology into our lives should be done cautiously. It is appropriate that questions should be asked about genetically engineered crops and foods. The public's concerns should be respected. However, we should not let those who steadfastly resist progress set the agenda for the rest of society. People also have a right to know about the current and future benefits of agricultural biotechnology, which eventually, like our drugs, will significantly contribute to our health.
ôHere in the United States, the FDA, USDA and EPA rigorously regulate the safety of biotech plants and foods. Biotechnology has been used to strengthen crops, improve farming techniques and benefit the environment. These efforts have given U.S. citizens the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world. The shortsighted protests of the few should not be allowed to curtail the tremendous benefits possible for billions of individuals through agricultural biotechnology.ö