The Codex Commission took final action Friday at its 31st session in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission and its member countries approved:
- the Annex on Food Safety Assessment in Situations of Low-Level Presence of Recombinant-DNA Plant Material in Food (LLP Annex),
- the Annex on Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant DNA-Plants Modified for Nutritional or Health Benefits, and
- the Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Animals.
Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, executive vice president, food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, issued the following statement in response to action taken this week by the Commission:
"On behalf of its members, BIO commends the actions taken by Codex this week. These standards represent Codex's commitment to promoting food safety for consumers, while embracing scientific advances and fostering trade of biotech-derived agriculture products.
"BIO and its members applaud the U.S. government and other governments around the world for moving these science-based guidelines to adoption by Codex.
"Adoption of guidance related to food safety assessments of low-level presence is essential to facilitate international trade while regulating incidental or trace amounts of biotechnology events in food and feed products. The new guidance recognizes that low-level presence is a natural part of plant biology, seed production and the distribution of commodity crops, and it can be managed in ways that ensure food safety and minimize trade disruptions.
"Adoption of the guidelines for risk assessment of the safety of foods derived from genetically engineered (GE) animals represents a policy breakthrough in the area of animal biotechnology. Codex standards are recognized as international benchmarks and act as models for governments in the establishment of their own food safety policies.
"Approval of the guidelines can now pave the way for the United States and other countries to develop science-based regulatory processes to govern the use of GE animals. GE animals are being developed to advance human and animal health, enhance food production, mitigate environmental impact and provide for high-tech industrial products.
"The Codex-approved texts on plant and animal biotechnology serve as science-based guidance, which will further enhance consumer safety and health while promoting the trade of biotech-derived products. This represents a tremendous step forward for farmers, traders and biotechnology industries in the United States and around the world."
In 2006, the Codex Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology agreed to draft an international guidance for food safety assessment of low-level presence of biotech products authorized as safe for use in food, feed, grain and derived products in one or more countries, including country of cultivation, but not yet in the country of import. In September, 2007 the members of the Codex Task Force unanimously agreed on the draft Annex that was considered and adopted by the Commission this week.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.
Codex, which comprises about 165 countries worldwide, is a scientific body that develops the international standards for food safety aimed at protecting public health and promoting fair trade practices.
BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world's largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.