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CSPI Welcomes White House Announcement on Biotech Regulation

Statement of CSPI Biotechnology Director Gregory Jaffe

July 2, 2015

CSPI welcomes today’s announcement by the White House to revisit the federal government’s oversight of genetically engineered crops and animals and update the Coordinated Framework for the federal regulation of biotechnology established back in 1986. CSPI hopes the end result of the process that is starting today will be better regulation that addresses the real potential risks of GE products and assures the public that the approved products are safe.

To address the fact that many consumers don’t believe foods made from GE crops are safe, the Food and Drug Administration needs to play a more substantial role than it does during the current voluntary consultation process. If the federal review process announced today determines that FDA's role can't be changed, the Obama Administration should work with Congress to pass such legislation. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s oversight needs to cover all GE crops, not just those that are designed with "plant pest" components. It is a waste of government resources for USDA to focus on whether a GE crop is a "plant pest" and while ignoring some of the real risks of those plants, such as the development of resistant weeds and insects.

The call to engage experts who can analyze the potential products from future biotechnologies is late in coming but necessary to ensuring food and environmental safety. It is essential that federal regulators keep up with scientific research and product development and adapt their oversight to address any potential risks that might arise.