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Scientists In Support Of Agricultural Biotech

Scientists In Support Of Agricultural Biotechnology

We, the undersigned members of the scientific community, believe that recombinant DNA techniques constitute powerful and safe means for the modification of organisms and can contribute substantially in enhancing quality of life by improving agriculture, health care, and the environment.

The responsible genetic modification of plants is neither new nor dangerous. Many characteristics, such as pest and disease resistance, have been routinely introduced into crop plants by traditional methods of sexual reproduction or cell culture procedures. The addition of new or different genes into an organism by recombinant DNA techniques does not inherently pose new or heightened risks relative to the modification of organisms by more traditional methods, and the relative safety of marketed products is further ensured by current regulations intended to safeguard the food supply. The novel genetic tools offer greater flexibility and precision in the modification of crop plants.

No food products, whether produced with recombinant DNA techniques or with more traditional methods, are totally without risk. The risks posed by foods are a function of the biological characteristics of those foods and the specific genes that have been used, not of the processes employed in their development. Our goal as scientists is to ensure that any new foods produced from recombinant DNA are as safe or safer than foods already being consumed.

Current methods of regulation and development have worked well. Recombinant DNA techniques have already been used to develop 'environmentally-friendly' crop plants with traits that preserve yields and allow farmers to reduce their use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides. The next generation of products promises to provide even greater benefits to consumers, such as enhanced nutrition, healthier oils, enhanced vitamin content, longer shelf life and improved medicines.

Through judicious deployment, biotechnology can also address environmental degradation, hunger, and poverty in the developing world by providing improved agricultural productivity and greater nutritional security. Scientists at the international agricultural centers, universities, public research institutions, and elsewhere are already experimenting with products intended specifically for use in the developing world.

We hereby express our support for the use of recombinant DNA as a potent tool for the achievement of a productive and sustainable agricultural system. We also urge policy makers to use sound scientific principles in the regulation of products produced with recombinant DNA, and to base evaluations of those products upon the characteristics of those products, rather than on the processes used in their development.

ENDS

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