Biotechnology and Foods

In an effort to contribute to a meaningful dialogue on scientific issues and consumer concerns about rDNA biotechnology, the Institute of Food Technologists conducted a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence related to biotechnology and foods.

September 19, 2000

This report focuses on rDNA biotechnology-derived foods, food ingredients, and animal feed of plant origin, and on the use of rDNA biotechnology-derived microorganisms such as yeasts and enzymes in food production.

This report was officially released in its entirety on Sept. 19, 2000, at a press conference in Washington D.C.

The use of modern biotechnology (recombinant DNA technology) to produce foods and food ingredients is a subject of heightened interest among consumers and public policy makers, and within the scientific community. As a result, the news media have extensively covered the subject, seemingly with each development. Eager to contribute to a meaningful dialogue on scientific issues and consumer concerns about rDNA biotechnology, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the 29,000-member nonprofit society for food science and technology, implemented a new initiative. IFT's leaders provided the impetus and strategies, including establishment of a Task Force, for the initiative. The Biotechnology Task Force identified the overall goal of providing science-based information about this modern tool to multiple audiences, e.g., its members, journalists, and the general public. The Task Force identified issues within three main topics—safety, labeling, and benefits and concerns—and decided that each would be addressed within a comprehensive, scientific report.

IFT convened a panel of experts, comprising IFT members and other prominent biotechnology authorities, to prepare report sections on each of the three main topics. Each panel contributed to an Introduction section. Thus, this scientific report consists of four parts: Introduction, Safety, Labeling, and Benefits and Concerns. Members of the panels of experts are also identified within each report section. The IFT Science and Policy Initiatives coordinated the development of the report.

The report focuses on rDNA biotechnology-derived foods, food ingredients, and animal feed of plant origin, and on the use of rDNA biotechnology-derived microorganisms such as yeasts and enzymes in food production. Milk from cows that have received rDNA biotechnology-derived hormones is discussed; transgenic animals resulting from the application of rDNA biotechnology techniques to animal production are not addressed.