Washington, DC--The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) backs the U.S. government's intention to increase consumer confidence in foods produced by modern biotechnology by making government oversight more formal and transparent. "Establishing a viable consultation process may build consumer confidence without altering the way U.S. biotechnology companies are already accustomed to working with the FDA," says ASTA Executive Vice President Dean Urmston. "As stated in the May 29, 1992 Federal Register, 'FDA has traditionally encouraged producers of new food ingredients to consult with FDA when there is a question about an ingredient's regulatory status, and firms routinely do so.'"
ASTA concurs with the FDA's conclusion that "foods developed by the new techniques do not present any different or greater safety concern than foods developed by traditional plant breeding" and for this reason, the method of development should not be required to be indicated on food labels. ASTA recognizes that there is no scientific basis for requiring mandatory labeling on biotech food or seed.
"It is critical that tests used to detect the presence of biotech ingredients in seed and food are standardized by an authoritative body, so that sellers and buyers as well as importers and exporters of products without biotech ingredients are all on the same playing field, and accompanying label claims are legitimate," Urmston noted.
Finally, ASTA commends the government in its efforts to make information about foods derived from modern biotechnology publicly available through the FDA web site.
"This is the kind of information that will be useful to consumers," Urmston said, "because it will allow them to base their decisions about biotech products on relevant research and safety data."