BIO Statement on NAS Report on Transgenic Plants

(Dr. Michael J. Phillips, executive director for food and agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) issued the following statement in response to today’s National Academy of Sciences’ report titled "Environmental Effects of Transgenic Plants: The Scope and Adequacy of Regulation.")

WASHINGTON (February 21, 2001) "Today’s report, commissioned by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), confirms the effectiveness of a comprehensive regulatory system that has been in place for more than a decade, and which has reviewed and granted more than 30,000 field permits without a single incidence of injury to human health or the environment.

"USDA is to be commended for requesting a scientific review of their system -- a system that works -- to see what enhancements, if any, might be needed. The suggestions offered by the panel may be viewed as tweaking a regulatory system that is held as the gold standard around the world.

"As the biotechnology industry matures, the agencies and regulations will be elaborated upon and modified as we learn more through experience; this is the normal course of science.

"BIO supports the overall tone and tenor of the NAS document; we might not be 100 percent in agreement on some wording and recommendations, but the report is not an indictment of the existing system; instead, it is a validation of a very good regulatory system with an excellent track record. It is a system that is flexible enough to incorporate many of the report’s recommendations, which will make it even better."

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.