A bill introduced today by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) - addressing the regulatory process used by the Food and Drug Administration prior to the introduction into the market of biotech foods - is "well-intentioned, but premature," according to the National Food Processors Association (NFPA).

"NFPA shares Senator Durbin's desire to strengthen consumer confidence in government oversight of the safety of food biotechnology," said Brian Folkerts, NFPA's Vice President of Government Affairs. "Senator Durbin's bill recognizes that biotech foods offer many benefits to U.S. and international consumers, and that the potential positive effects of these foods are enormous."

Folkerts noted, however, that "FDA already has announced its intention to propose new regulations later this year to enhance premarket review of biotech foods and provide guidance for voluntary labeling of foods containing (or free of) ingredients derived from biotechnology. We need to let FDA take action and solicit public comment on its regulatory initiatives before considering legislation that may have the unintended effect of eroding confidence in FDA's authority."

Folkerts added "With the benefit of FDA's work, Congress will be better equipped next year to consider changes in FDA's statutory authority, if necessary. In the meantime, NFPA continues to urge FDA to use its existing authority to provide for a mandatory consultation between FDA and companies seeking to introduce new biotech foods or ingredients, as well as increasing transparency by making more information on these foods available to consumers. Together, these actions will provide a more formal and transparent review process for biotechnology."

"NFPA looks forward to working with FDA to ensure that any changes to existing regulations governing food biotechnology are based on sound science, instill credibility into the regulatory process, and truly help to enhance confidence in biotechnology - which is a goal shared by all stakeholders, including the food industry, consumers, the regulatory agencies, and members of Congress such as Senator Durbin," Folkerts concluded.

NFPA is the voice of the $460 billion food processing industry on scientific and public policy issues involving food safety, nutrition, technical and regulatory matters and consumer affairs. For further information or to arrange an interview with an NFPA spokesperson on this subject, call Timothy Willard, NFPA's Vice President of Communications, at (202) 637-8060, or visit NFPA's Website at www.nfpa-food.org.