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
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.