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Dietitian Mary Lee Chin Comments on Proven Value and Safety of Food Biotechnology in New Online Video
Date:7/8/2008

Extensive tests and evaluations result in 12-years of safe use.

St. Louis, MO (PRWEB) July 8, 2008 -– In a new online video and podcast released today, dietitian Mary Lee Chin describes the process of food biotechnology, as well as the safety and benefits of genetically modified foods. In the video, Chin discusses how consumers on a daily basis make numerous decisions about the food they eat. Aside from choices based on how a food tastes, many of these decisions require a good understanding of nutrition, food science and, sometimes, even agriculture with consumers asking themselves, “Do I want less fat or fewer calories? Do I want food that has been organically or conventionally grown?”

“It’s not surprising to me that people are concerned about any new type of food or food production method that comes on the market,” says Mary Lee Chin, MS, RD, who has been practicing dietetics for more than 30 years. “But as a registered dietician, I can assure them that the regulatory oversight, the research and development that has gone into [food biotechnology, produces the good food that ends up on their dinner plate.”

When genetically modified crops were first introduced in the mid-1990s, most consumers were not very aware that research into biotechnology could be or was being applied to food. However, for decades, researchers had been studying how food biotechnology could safely increase productivity on the farm, as well as nutritional value on the plate.

Researchers developed extensive tests and evaluations to assess the safety of food biotechnology products through the concept of substantial equivalence. Under this concept, researchers use science-based safety assessments to determine if food biotechnology products are as safe as – or substantially equivalent to – their conventionally bred counterparts. First, they identify the similarities and differences between a product and its closest traditional counterparts. Then, they subject the differences to a rigorous safety assessment or further scientific procedures as needed to clarify any safety issues.

All food biotechnology products currently available on the international market have undergone and passed these science-based safety assessments. As a result, in the last 12 years, more than 690 million hectares or 1.7 billion acres of genetically modified crops have been grown commercially with no documented adverse effects to humans or animals.

According to the Institute of Food Technologists, a nonprofit scientific society for food science and technology, biotechnology processes tend to reduce risks because they are more precise and predictable than conventional techniques.

“Food biotechnology is the new way of doing it more precisely and accurately,” comments Chin. “The old methods, you were crossing tens of thousands of genes. … This way, you identify the characteristic that you want. You select the gene that provides the characteristic, and put it in the end product. And you don’t get those unwanted genes and unwanted characteristics. … It’s a more efficient way of doing it, too. And to me, it’s a safer way of doing it.”

Numerous professional organizations, academic research entities and regulatory bodies worldwide have independently and extensively studied and considered all aspects of food biotechnology, with a striking congruence in their resulting conclusions and recommendations.

“My own professional organization – the American Dietetic Association – has come out with a stance that advocates food biotechnology and reinforces its safety,” explains Chin. “There are many other health professional organizations, such as the American Medical Association, then international organizations like the World Health Organization, which also support the safety of food biotechnology; and not only because of the benefit from the safety perspective, but also because of the nutritional benefits and its ability to potentially feed hungry people in the world.”

This new video can be viewed, downloaded or embedded into another Web site from the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site. In addition, visitors to the Web site can view videos with farmers about the need for GM crops in Burkina Faso, as well as with global experts who want greater access to GM technology in developing countries to benefit subsistence farming.

The Conversations about Plant Biotechnology is designed to give a voice and a face to the farmers and families who grow GM crops and the experts who research and study the benefits of biotechnology in agriculture. The Web site contains more than 70 two- to three-minute, extremely candid, straightforward and compelling video segments with the people who know the technology best. The Web site is hosted by Monsanto Company — a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

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