CSPI Praises National Academy of Science’ Scientific Analysis on Transgenic Animals
Regulatory System Needs Significant Improvement to Adequately Assess Risks
August 20, 2002
Statement by Gregory Jaffe, Director of the Biotechnology Project
The new National Academy of Science’s (“NAS”) report does an excellent job at identifying and prioritizing the environmental and food-safety risks from transgenic animals. With so many risks and limited data to assess those risks, it is imperative that transgenic animals are not released into the environment nor enter our food supply without thorough and transparent assessments by the government. The NAS is correct in pointing out that environmental risks from engineered fish and insects raise some of the most immediate concerns of animal biotechnology.
While the NAS report primarily focuses on the scientific concerns with transgenic animals, the adequacy of the regulatory system is equally important. The report’s conclusion that ‘the current regulatory framework might not be adequate to address unique problems and characteristics associated with animal biotechnologies’ is an understatement. The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), which has oversight over transgenic fish and livestock, does not have adequate legal authority to address potential environmental hazards. In addition, FDA’s approval process is conducted behind closed doors without any opportunity for public participation. If the public is going to accept transgenic animals as safe, FDA must establish an transparent and participatory approval process whereby the public can review and comment on the safety of these products before they are marketed.