WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration today announced a series of steps intended to assure the public of the safety of biotech foods, including a formal process for reviewing gene-altered crops and standards for food makers to follow in labeling products.
The plan would require biotech companies to notify the Food and Drug Administration at least four months in advance of releasing new genetically engineered ingredients for food and animal feed and to provide the agency with their research data.
Biotech companies now voluntarily consult with the FDA before going to market, but the new plan would codify the practice. Once the FDA reviews a new food or animal feed, the agency's conclusions and product safety data would be posted on its Web site for consumers to read.
The agency also will set standards for food processors who want to label products made with or without the use of bioengineered ingredients. The guidelines will ensure that such labels are ''truthful and informative,'' the agency said.
''FDA's scientific review continues to show that all bioengineered foods sold here in the United States today are as safe as their non-bioengineered counterparts,'' Commissioner Jane Henney said today. ''We believe our initiatives will provide the public with continued confidence in the safety of these foods.''
The FDA will seek comments from the public before the new rules take effect.
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