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Public Meetings Oil Bioengineered Foods.

FDA has undertaken a new initiative to engage the public about foods made with bioengineering. The initiative began with a series of public meetings held in Chicago, Washington, and Oakland last November and December.

The meetings were designed to inform the public about current FDA policy for ensuring the safety of bioengineered foods. The public then was asked whether this policy should be modified. FDA also solicited suggestions for providing information to the public about bicengineered products in the food supply.

Under current FDA policy, developers of bioengineered foods are expected to consult with the agency before marketing their products, so that all safety and regulatory questions can be addressed fully. In certain circumstances, FDA's policy also requires special labeling. For example, a bioengineered food has to have a different or modified name if its composition is significantly different from that of its conventionally grown counterpart--or if its nutritional value has been significantly altered. Special labeling also is required when it is important to inform consumers about a safety issue, such as the possible presence of an allergen that would not normally occur in a conventionally grown product.

"Although people have enthusiastically accepted new drugs made from biotechnology," said Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, "some consumers have concerns about the use of this technology in foods, and we need to ask why those concerns exist and how we can address them."

Modern bioengineering was first used to produce consumer products in the early 1980s, when FDA approved important new drugs to treat a range of diseases. In the 1990s, foods such as tomatoes, corn, and soybeans began to be bioengineered. To date, biotechnology firms have completed consultation with FDA on more than 40 food products, and a substantial portion of American cropland is planted with bioengineered seeds.
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Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:299
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