The International Food Biotechnology Council (IFBC) was organized in 1988 to develop criteria and procedures to evaluate the safety of foods produced through genetic modification. The specific objective was to provide a comprehensive, scientifically based report, with extensive literature references and a glossary of terms for this new field, for safety criteria of foods and food ingredients derived from genetically modified plants and microorganisms. However, the immense scope of the subject required restriction to three general categories of food products: foods and food ingredients derived from microorganisms, single chemicals and simple mixtures, and whole foods and other complex mixtures. Not considered were foods derived from genetically modified animals, environmental aspects of the use or cultivation of genetically modified organisms, and whatever social and ethical issues genetic modification may be thought to raise.
A decision tree was prepared for each of the three categories of food products that embodies a series of detailed questions concerning the genetic origin, composition and safety of the food or food ingredient, and that culminates in a decision to accept, reject, or subject the test material to further study.
The report has been completed by a group of experts from both academia and industry, including those authors and other contributors named under Contributors. Drafts of the report have been reviewed by approximately 150 representatives of government agencies in 13 countries, industrial scientific organizations, professional societies, congressional4egistative staffs, public interest-consumerism groups and academicians. In most cases their critical evaluations and extensive, written comments lent universality and accuracy to the final report.
The IFBC document drafting group who were responsible for the final report took into account the more than 40 sets of detailed, substantive, written comments from the numerous reviews, but they also had the valuable opinions derived from a 2-day symposium convened to provocatively analyze the general subject of the safety of foods produced by biotechnology.
The principal audiences for the report include regulatory agencies, the biotechnology industry, the food industry, the general public, and officials at all levels of government. Within this diverse audience, the food industry, their suppliers in the biotechnology industry and food regulatory agencies are responsible for ensuring that the products of biotechnology will be safe for consumption. This summary describes the principal issues and the conclusions and recommendations in the report, including the specific decision criteria for the acceptance of modified foods and ingredients.
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