BIO Supports FDA Public Meetings On Biotech Foods

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 16, 1999) -- The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) fully concurs with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) initiative to hold public meetings to discuss the agency's oversight of biotech foods.

BIO also welcomes the opportunity to participate in the Chicago meeting, Nov. 18, and in subsequent meetings in Washington, D.C., Nov. 30, and Oakland, Dec. 13. Attached to this press release is a statement from BIO President Carl B. Feldbaum.

BIO supports FDA's science-based policies regarding biotech foods. This includes FDA's consultation process for reviewing all biotech foods and food labeling practices based on health, safety and nutritional considerations.

The voluntary consultation is de facto mandatory and BIO's members are committed to complying with FDA's procedures on consultations.

As for labeling, BIO supports the FDA's findings that foods derived from crops improved through biotechnology are not necessarily different from foods derived from crops improved through conventional plant breeding. The FDA requires labels on all foods whose nutritional content has been changed and on all foods that may pose a health risk, such as an allergic reaction.

Purely informational labeling should be voluntary, such as thepolicy applied to organic and kosher foods. Informational labels, however, must continue to be rigorously examined to assure they always convey correct and non-misleading data.

Foods derived from crops improved through biotechnology have been tested more than any other foods in history. Test data confirm they pose no greater threat to the environment or human health than plants modified by conventional breeding. In fact, in many cases, biotech crops and foods enhance our environment and health.

Initial application of biotechnology to agriculture has focused on improving farming. These products directly benefit growers by reducing costs and boosting yields and indirectly benefit consumers by fostering more environmentally friendly farming practices, including reduced reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They directly benefit consumers by maintaining stable food supplies, which also help keep prices stable.

We expect that the next generation of biotech foods will have more immediate benefits for consumers through enriched nutrition, decreased allergenicity, lower fat content and improved freshness and taste. Also in development are biotech foods that will deliver medicines, such as vaccines or compounds that help prevent cancer. This is especially important for developing nations.

BIO enthusiastically supports the public's right to know what we are all eating, especially when it comes to health risks, changes in nutrition or the possibility of an allergic reaction. Information on biotech crops on the market and in development is available on the websites of the FDA (, U.S. Department of Agriculture ( and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (

BIO represents more than 850 companies, academic institutions and state biotech centers in 47 states and 26 nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.