Groups Call Attack on Safety Review of Biotech Foods ôBeyond Reasonö

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 6, 1999) -- The story ôBeyond Substantial Equivalenceö in Nature (10/7/99) is an unfounded attack on the concepts underpinning scientific safety review of biotech foods and ignores the record of rigorous safety testing applied to those products on the market, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) said in a joint statement.

ôThe assertion that government statutes do not adequately address genetically improved foods is thoroughly inaccurate,ö said L. Val Giddings, vice president for food and agriculture at BIO. ôThe U.S. Food Drug and Cosmetic Act gives the Food and Drug Administration clear responsibility and authority to ensure that all food sold in the United States is safe, regardless of the methods used to produce it, and provides ample authority to enforce this legal requirement.ö

ôScientific and regulatory authorities worldwide including the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada and Europe have demonstrated confidence in the scientific principle of substantial equivalence as the basis to assess the safety of foods developed through biotechnology,ö said Gene Grabowski, vice president of communications at GMA.

ôConfidence in our scientific regulatory standards has also been a pivotal factor in Americans' strong acceptance of biotechnology. According to a Gallup Poll released this week, 80 percent of Americans say they feel the food on grocery store shelves is safe, and more than 75 percent express confidence in the federal government to ensure food safety,ö Grabowski said.

BIO represents more than 830 biotechnology companies, academic institutions and state biotechnology centers in 46 states and more than 26 nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural and industrial biotechnology products.

GMA is the world's largest association of food, beverage and consumer product companies. With U.S. sales of more than $450 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in all 50 states. The organization applies legal, scientific and political expertise from its member companies to vital food, nutrition and public policy issues affecting the industry. Led by a board of 42 Chief Executive Officers, GMA speaks for food and consumer product manufacturers at the state, federal and international levels on legislative and regulatory issues. The association also leads efforts to increase productivity, efficiency and growth in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.