BIO Statement on NAS Report on Modified Foods

Dr. Michael Phillips, vice president of agricultural science and regulatory policy, of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) issued the following statement in response to today’s National Academies of Science (NAS) report titled "Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects:"

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 27, 2004) -- "Today’s report from the Institute of Medicine is yet another milestone in consumer acceptance of agricultural biotechnology. It affirms that crops improved through biotechnology are 'not inherently hazardous', that food safety evaluations should be based on the resulting food product, not the technique used to create it, and that 'genetic modification' applies to a wide variety of breeding techniques from traditional cross-breeding, to chemical radiation, to transfer of genes for important traits. Coming from the Institute of Medicine, this report should lay to rest the few naysayers who continue to question the safety of these crops.

"We now have an excellent blueprint for the regulatory agencies to follow in determining risk assessments for novel food products of biotechnology, often referred to as 'future foods.' As researchers develop more nutritious and better-tasting foods, including those with heart-healthy and cancer-fighting agents, consumers can have confidence of a regulatory path to ensure their safety.

"As policy-makers study this report to set a future course of regulation, the goal should be to reinforce the fundamental principles of existing regulation: that all regulations are science-based; that they focus on properties of the transferred gene, and that the level of regulation is based on the level of risk to public health, not a precautionary 'doomsday' approach."

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.