Thumbs Down On FDA Rules For Biotech Food

Washington, D.C.  May 3, 2000 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute today issued a strong condemnation of proposed new regulations for genetically-engineered foods expected to be released today by the Food and Drug Administration.  “There is no reason to believe that genetically-engineered foods are inherently less safe than other foods,” said Gregory Conko, CEI’s Director of Food Safety Policy, “so singling out these products for greater oversight solely because they’re developed with newer techniques can not be justified.” <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O />

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already has authority to remove unsafe foods from the market. Under the FDA’s current policy, manufacturers wishing to sell genetically-engineered crop plants are advised to meet with the FDA to review all safety testing.  Foods made with genetically-engineered ingredients have been available in the United States since 1990, and genetically-engineered crop plants have been available since 1996. 

“During the past ten years, Americans have benefited tremendously from the biotech revolution,” said CEI’s Conko, “but the FDA’s new rules could dangerously slow down the pace of technological progress.”  He added, “These new regulations grant FDA too much discretion to decide how much or how little testing is necessary, and to arbitrarily withhold approvals indefinitely.”

Surprisingly, even some advocates of agricultural biotechnology support the FDA’s proposed new rule because they believe that the public will be reassured by FDA’s increased oversight.  “But most of the people who are skeptical of biotech foods, simply don’t realize how much testing is already conducted or how stringent the current regulations are.  So making those rules tougher isn’t likely to help” said Conko.  “Expecting that people who are uninformed today will be fully informed tomorrow is ludicrous.”

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information, contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010.