(Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement today regarding FDA Commissioner Jane Henney’s announcement regarding the agency’s oversight of biotech foods.)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 3, 2000)--The biotechnology industry supports the decision of the Food and Drug Administration to make the approval process for foods improved through biotechnology more transparent, and to also provide more guidance to the food industry with regard to voluntary claims on food labels.
We will certainly abide by the FDA’s ruling on mandatory notification both in letter and in spirit. We did not think this step was necessary because numerous independent examinations by authoritative bodies, most recently the National Academy of Sciences, have found the existing regulatory system to be doing a good job protecting consumers and the environment. But if the steps announced today serve to further strengthen public confidence in the United States’ already strict regulatory system and the safety of our food supply, then they must be considered appropriate and positive.
During last fall’s FDA public meetings, BIO testified that consumers need to be fully informed about biotech foods. Consumers must have convenient access to the enormous amount of data and experience collected by the Food and Drug Administration. A fair reading of these data shows that these foods are as safe as, and in many cases, safer than foods derived though traditional methods. (See www.bio.org).
Further, the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI), of which BIO is a founding member, recently began publishing safety data for specific biotech products on its website, www.whybiotech.com. Our hope is this will make information already available thorough regulatory agencies more easily accessible to consumers.
BIO also supports the need for labeling claims to be truthful, precisely accurate, and in no way misleading to provide information to consumers who desire even more information. Interested consumers should know that existing FDA policy strictly mandates label statements if a food derived from biotechnology or conventional breeding methods in any way changes the nutritional composition, or contains an allergen not present in food.
BIO represents more than 900 companies, academic institutions and biotech centers in 47 states and 26 nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental products.