Sound Evidence, Not Politics or Trade Discrimination Should Be Used to Assess Biotech Foods

(Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, issued the following statement prior to the start of the World Trade Organization's Third Ministerial Conference in Seattle, Nov.29 - Dec.3 outlining the biotechnology industry's agenda).

ôOur major issue during this round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks is market access for U.S. agricultural biotechnology crops and foods simply a fair shake for U.S. farm products and for U.S. farmers. We believe access to world markets for biotechnology products should be based on scientific regulatory reviews. This new round of trade negotiations should reinforce WTO rules requiring an approval process for biotech products that is science-based.

ôSome countries have blocked the importation of certain biotechnology crops and foods produced in the United States. Countries have the right under WTO rules to protect themselves from legitimate food safety and environmental risks. However, they also have the obligation to demonstrate that such regulations are based on sound scientific evidence and are not arbitrary, politically motivated or discriminatory.

ôThis situation has disrupted U.S. corn shipments to Europe and threatens to cause even more widespread problems in the future. European consumers have had to deal with food-scare problems, but biotechnology crops planted in the United States and the foods derived from them have gone through thorough environmental and food safety reviews by U.S. regulatory agencies before commercialization, including the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and The Environmental Protection Agency. They have been more rigorously scrutinized than any other foods in history, and shown to be safe.ö

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), in Washington, D.C. represents more than 850 companies, academic institutions and state biotechnology 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.