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DON'T BETRAY THE VALUE AND BASIS OF FOOD LABELING, MONSANTO URGES FDA COMMITTEE

 BST Labeling Would be Improper, Misleading and Would Reverse
 the Gains of Labeling Reform
 WASHINGTON, May 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Labeling dairy products from BST- supplemented cows should not be required by the Food and Drug Administration, would reverse the agency's hard-won gains in restoring credibility to food labels, and may even mislead consumers, a team of Monsanto spokespersons testified before an FDA joint advisory committee today.
 "Mandatory labeling of products from BST-supplemented animals would not only create an artificial distinction between like products, it would violate the spirit and the intent of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act," said Dr. Virginia V. Weldon, vice president of public policy for Monsanto. "It would be an unfortunate step backward -- diminishing, not increasing, the credibility of the food label."
 Weldon was joined by two other Monsanto executives and a former FDA chief counsel in stressing that:
 -- FDA requires labels on food products to provide consumers with information about a product's safety, its nutritional composition or its identity or value.
 -- The world's most respected science and health institutions, including FDA, hold that milk and meat from BST-supplemented cows are safe and the same as from other cows.
 -- Labeling products derived from BST-supplemented cows would conflict with food labeling laws and fundamental food-labeling policy dating back to 1938.
 -- Incorporating social or economic criteria into decisions regarding labeling would reverse the monumental accomplishments of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act in restoring credibility and comprehensibility to food labels.
 Richard Merrill, professor of law at the University of Virginia and former FDA chief counsel, explained that the agency has no authority or grounds to label products from BST-supplemented cows. He established that milk from BST-supplemented cows is not "fabricated," that "BST is not an ingredient," and that "foods derived from BST-supplemented cows are in no way changed."
 "FDA has never required ingredient labeling of natural constituents of food; nor has it ever relied on section 201(n) (of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act) where it could not point to misleading half- truths or adverse consequences," Merrill said.
 He added, "Unless FDA is able to point to misrepresentations that have to be corrected or consequences that consumers have to be advised about, it has no authority to require anything more on the labels of foods."
 In his review of the scientific issues relating to supplemental-BST, Dr. Robert J. Collier, Monsanto's Dairy Research director, re-emphasized that supplemental-BST is safe and does not alter the composition of milk. He explained that a variety of other factors -- including genetics, nutrition and stage of lactation -- do markedly alter milk composition; yet because the milk is safe and nutritious, FDA does not require labeling for these differences.
 In fact, Collier pointed out that there are at least 30 hormones, including BST, known to be naturally occurring in milk. The use of supplemental-BST does not increase the level of any of these outside of normal ranges.
 Walter P. Hobgood, vice president of Monsanto's Animal Sciences Division, reminded the committee that the hearing was not about he role of biotechnology in food production, nor about whether and how citizens should be informed about biotechnology, nor about BST safety, which has been well-established. He stressed, "The narrow question before FDA is whether the agency may, and should, mandate that the labels of milk and all other foods derived from treated cows must, in addition to the other important information that they are required to contain, also convey information about the way in which cows were managed."
 More than ever, consumers rely on labels for good nutrition information. Labeling products from BST-treated cows would mislead consumers by creating a perceived risk where none exists. Furthermore, labeling would seriously compromise the integrity of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act and jeopardize food labeling policy currently in place. "There is nothing to warrant or justify labeling, and FDA should not require it," Hobgood concluded.
 -0- 5/6/93
 /CONTACT: Tom McDermott of Monsanto (c/o Holiday Inn), 202-737-2200, ext. 2040, or 314-694-3605/
 (MTC)


CO: Monsanto Agricultural Company; Food and Drug Administration ST: District of Columbia IN: AGR CHM MTC SU:

DC-KD -- DC018 -- 5471 05/06/93 12:50 EDT
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Date:May 6, 1993
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