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US Regulations Expert views

In Support of Food Biotechnology

Biotechnology is a safe way to produce healthier food in greater quantities, as well as a cleaner environment. Experience shows it. Regulation requires it. And science proves it.

Biotechnology is beneficial to both consumers and the environment. Through the use of biotechnology, foods already have been developed that are better tasting, take longer to ripen, are more disease and insect resistant and are more flavorful. Food biotechnology also helps protect the global environment, and is a key to the urgent problem of feeding a growing world population.

Numerous experts have already weighed in on the benefits of biotechnology:

Food Biotechnology is Safe

"One of the great consumer questions of our time is: Will the world accept biotechnology? From a purely scientific perspective, it's an odd question. We already have. Biotechnology's been around almost since the beginning of time. It's cavemen saving seeds of a high-yielding plant. It's Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, cross-pollinating his garden peas. Our best scientists have searched for risks. Without exception, the biotech products on our shelves have proven safe."
Dan Glickman,U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (March 13, 1999)

"We have spent considerable amount of time and resources examining the science of gene technology and how it would impact on the food supply and have concluded that, provided that companies take the proper steps to examine the important safety issues, these foods should be as safe as other foods on the market. In addition to those steps that breeders normally take, for products of [biotechnology], companies are doing far more extensive testing than has ever been done on commercial varieties. They are doing chemical analyses for important nutrients, for toxicants. They are examining the new substances, such as proteins that have been introduced into these foods, in terms of possible toxicity and allergenicity and taking other steps under the guidance of our scientists in the government to ensure proper adequate testing before they go to consumers."
James Maryanski, Ph.D., Biotechnology Coordinator, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Worldnet, May 26, 1999)

"[Biotech foods] go through the same rigorous review process for safety that applies to all of our food and feed products."
Stuart Eizenstat, Former U.S. Undersec. of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs (June 16, 1999)

"Right around the world, the scientific evidence is that there is no problem with GMOs over and above any other food."
David Byrne, Commissioner for Health & Consumer Protection, European Commission
(The Lancet, September 2000)

"[There is] no evidence currently available [that] GM foods have any adverse effect on human health."
Sir John Krebs, Chairman, British Food Standards Agency (Reuters, September 6, 2000)

"We've never had the least incidence with GMOs Š not a single incident in 25 years of research and use. So, if [policies are] followed, I conclude it's safe."
DMaurice Hofnung, Director, Molecular Programming and Genetic Toxicology, The Pasteur Institute, France (The Lancet, September 2000)

"To date, [the Australian/New Zealand Food Authority] has found no evidence that GM foods are less safe than their conventionally produced counterparts Š a finding supported by food agencies around the world."
The Australian/New Zealand Food Authority Press Statement (August 31, 2000)

"Crops modified by molecular and cellular methods should pose risks no different from those modified by classic genetic methods for similar traits."
Report, (U.S.) National Research Council (1992)

"The overwhelming scientific evidence argues against the supposition that DNA from transgenic plants will somehow contaminate bacteria in humans and animals and in some way cause mutations in people that eat foods from genetically modified plants. The concern approaches the ridiculous when critics propose that remnants of DNA that are found in soy meal or soy oil will cause harm in humans."
Roger N. Beachy, Ph.D., President of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center on behalf of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (March 3, 1999)

"I have absolutely no anxiety. I am worried about a lot of things, but not about modified food."
James Watson, Ph.D., co-discoverer of DNA structure and Nobel Laureate, U.K.
(Daily Telegraph, February 25, 1999)

"Thirteen years of experience with biotech products in the U.S. have shown us that biotech foods developed and used in the U.S. present no food safety risks beyond those of their "natural" counterparts – not a single ailment has been attributed to biotech foods. Not one! Not a sneeze, not a rash, not a headache."
U.S. Ambassador David L. Aaron, U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Trade (April 2000)

"From the standpoint of the Food and Drug Administration, the important thing for consumers to know about these new foods is that they will be every bit as safe as the foods now on store shelves. All foods, whether traditionally bred or genetically engineered, must meet the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act."
"Genetic Engineering Fast Forwarding to the Future Foods;" (FDA Consumer magazine April 1995; revised February 1998)

"We do not believe that obligatory [biotech] labeling is necessary, because it would suggest a health risk where there is none. Mandatory labelling could mislead consumers about the safety of these products and require segregation of [biotech] and [non-biotech] foods."
Isi Siddiqui, Special Assistant for Trade to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
(Reuters, July 27, 1999)

"The responsible genetic modification of plants is neither new nor dangerous. Many characteristics, such as pest and disease resistance, have been routinely introduced into crop plants by traditional methods of sexual reproduction or cell culture procedures."
Petition Signed by Nearly 3,000 Scientists Globally in Support of Biotechnology
(January 2001)

"A broad scientific consensus holds that modern techniques of genetic engineering are essentially a refinement of the kinds of genetic modification that have long been used to enhance plants, micro-organisms and animals for food. The products of the newer techniques are even more predictable and safer than the genetically engineered foods that have long enriched our diet."
Henry Miller, Fellow, Hoover Institute, Stanford University (Financial Times, June 17, 1999)

"All the food we eat, with the exception of wild game, has been genetically engineered. It's interesting as a political issue, but I haven't seen much that points to any safety concerns."
Hank Greely, Co-Director, Program in Genomics, Ethics & Society, Stanford University; (June 18, 1999)

Food Biotechnology Benefits Consumers

"The newer biotechnology techniques open up very great possibilities of rapidly improving the quantity and quality of food available. The use of these techniques does not result in food which is inherently less safe than that produced by conventional ones."
Report of a Joint Consultation of theU.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization (1991)

"Biotechnology provides new and powerful tools for research and for accelerating the development of new and better foods. The benefits of biotechnology are many and include providing resistance to crop pests to improve production and reduce chemical pesticide usage, thereby making major improvements in both food quality and nutrition."
Report of a Joint Consultation of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization (1996)

"In addition to safer foods, biotechnology also has the potential to bring about the creation of more nutritious foods. it would be a significant loss to humanity if the many benefits of biotechnology were not realized because of concerns that have little basis in scientific fact."
Brian Larkins, Ph.D., President, American Society of Plant Physiologists and Professor, Department of Plant Science, The University of Arizona (The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 1999)

"Genetic modification offers the opportunity to decrease or eliminate the protein allergens that occur naturally in foods. An example is the development of a genetically modified rice variety developed through anti-sense technology, which dramatically reduced levels of the major rice allergen."
Report of a Joint Consultation of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization (1996)

"Agricultural biotechnology holds promise for a hungry and ecologically fragile world. The development of new crop varieties that offer increased yields, reduced inputs, and offer specialized traits that meet end-user needs is merely the starting point."
Stephen S. Censky, Chief Executive Officer, American Soybean Association (May 26, 1999)

"It is the position of The American Dietetic Association that biotechnology techniques have the potential to be useful in enhancing the quality, nutritional value, and variety of food available for human consumption and in increasing the efficiency of food production, food processing food distribution, and waste management."
Position statement of the American Dietetic Association; October 18, 1992 (Reaffirmed September 9, 1994)

"Regardless of how we measure consumer perceptions, surveys document that between two-thirds and three-quarters of American respondents are positive about plant biotechnology."
Thomas Hoban, Professor, North Carolina State University (The Financial Times, February 19, 1999)

Food Biotechnology Benefits the Environment

"Scientists are gaining the ability to insert genes that give biological defense against diseases and insects, thus reducing the need for chemical pesticides, and convey genetic traits that enable crops to better withstand drought conditions. With this powerful new genetic knowledge, scientists have the capability to pack large amounts of technology into a single seed."
Norman Borlaug, Ph.D., Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (Testimony before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, July 31, 1997)

"Simply put, [agricultural biotechnology] is the most promising, precise and advanced strategy available today for meeting the challenges of reduced use of synthetic chemical pesticides, the need for nutritionally and functionally improved plants, and the need for improved resistance to pests and diseases."
Institute of Food Technologists (October 1996)

"We are increasingly encouraged that the advantages of genetic engineering of plants and animals are greater than the risks. The risks should be carefully followed through openness, analysis and controls, but without a sense of alarm. We cannot agree with the position of some groups that say it is against the will of God to meddle with the genetic make-up of plants and animals."
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, Vice President, Pontifical Academy for Life, The Vatican
(St. Louis Review, October 22, 1999)

"I'm quite confident that, when the public is properly informed about biotech, they will realize that the positive benefits are far away any potential negative benefits. In fact, we donÕt really know of any negative aspects for GMOs but we do know of many positive ones, both socially and environmentally."
Dr. Patrick Moore, Former President of Greenpeace (New Scientist, December 25, 1999)

Food Biotechnology Benefits Farmers

". what everyone must understand is to maintain the productivity of agriculture, we must continue to improve the agricultural seeds that are used. We have been doing this for generations. We are now blessed through research and technology with new methods of actually speeding up the process of improving the seeds and the products we get from them. The most important thing we have to do is get the message out about the benefits of these [biotech] products."
Melinda Kimble, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Oceans and International and Environmental Scientific Affairs (acting) (Worldnet, May 26, 1999)

"Biotechnology is an important tool which must be made available to emerging markets. This investment helps U.S. farmers by creating a greater demand for our agricultural products and much of the technology comes back to U.S. farmers to make them even more competitive."
Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Ph.D., Director, International Food Policy Research Institute (February 5, 1999)

If we turn our back on [agricultural biotechnology] we are turning our back on the next generation of plants for farmers."
Dr. Tony Conner, (New Zealand) Crown Research Institute (June 15, 1999)

Food Biotechnology Can Help Counter World Hunger

"If imports like these [biotechnology crops] are regulated unnecessarily, the real losers will be the developing nations. Instead of reaping the benefits of decades of discovery and research, people from Africa and Southeast Asia will remain prisoners of outdated technology. Their countries could suffer greatly for years to come. It is crucial that they reject the propaganda of extremist groups before it is too late."
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (The New York Times, August 26, 1998)

"Bioengineered crops. could improve food yields by up to 25 percent in the developing world and help feed the 3 billion people to be born over the next 30 years."
1997 World Bank and Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)

"It's easy for the United Kingdom and the United States to say we donÕt need more food, but this is the voice of the developing world which has faced a great deal of starvation in the past."
Dr. Bruce Alberts, President, (U.S.) National Academy of Science

"Given the socioeconomic realities and needs in countries like South Africa and China, it is almost trivial to discuss whether they should use a technology that already has shown its benefits to their populations. These countries cannot afford to limit themselves to the industrialized world's narrow interpretation of risk assessment. Likewise, they cannot afford to allow the Western debate to slow developing countries' access to already existing and expected future benefits of biotechnology."
Jennifer A. Thomson, Director, Dept. of Microbiology, The University of Cape Town,(So. Africa) and Zhang-Liang Chen,Director, National Laboratory of Protein Engineering and Plant Genetic Engineering (China) and chair, UNESCO Plant Biotechnology Committee
(Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, April 10, 2000)


Food Biotechnology Benefits Third World Nations

"It is the developing world which has the greatest need for the new knowledge and techniques promised by biotechnology. Unnecessary delay could have disastrous consequences for the food security of millions."
Donald J. Johnston, Secretary General, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; "A Defense of Modern Biotechnology," (OECD Observer, No. 21, March, 1999)

"I believe the world will be able to produce the food needed to feed [its] projected population of 8.3 million by 2025. But it cannot be attained without permitting use of technologies now available, or without research. including biotechnology and recombinant DNA."
Norman Borlaug 1970 Nobel Prize Recipient "We Need Biotech to Feed the World"
(Wall Street Journal Editorial, December 6, 2000)

"Modern biotechnology is not a silver bullet for achieving food security, but, used in conjunction with other agricultural research, it may be a powerful tool in the fight against poverty. It has the potential to help enhance agricultural productivity in developing countries in a way that further reduces poverty, improves food security and nutrition, and promotes sustainable use of natural resources. Solutions to the problems facing small farmers in developing countries could benefit both farmers and consumers."
Gabrielle J. Persley, Co-Editor, Agricultural Biotechnology and the Poor CGIAR/U.S. National Academy of Sciences Conference

"It is important to increase yield on land that is already intensely cultivated. However, increasing production is only one part of the equation. Income generation, particularly in low-income areas together with the more effective distribution of food stocks, are equally, if not more, important. GM technologies are relevant to both these elements of food security."
Report prepared jointly by the Royal Society of London, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Indian National Academy of Sciences, Mexican National Academy of Sciences and the Third World Academy of Sciences (July 2000)

"Through judicious development, biotechnology can also address environmental degradation, hunger, and poverty in the developing world by providing improved agricultural productivity and greater nutritional security."
Petition Signed by Nearly 3,000 Scientists Globally in Support of Biotechnology (January 2001)

"[Biotechnology] will make farmers wealthier, especially in developing countries where they need to grow more food per hectare. It will be good for society. It will make food more nutritious and healthier. And, it will be good for the environment in reducing reliance on chemicals and in using less land to grow the same food for our 6 billion people in the world."
Dr. Patrick Moore, Former President of Greenpeace (Thai Television (Channel 11), September 4, 2000)

"In China, the public generally accepts commercialization of transgenic plants and most people [believe] that. agrobiotechnology is a powerful tool for promoting agricultural production and [providing] enough food for the world especially. developing countries in the future."
Zhang-Liang Chen, Peking University (China) OECD Conference on the Scientific and Health Aspects of Genetically Modified Foods (February 28 - March 1, 2000)