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March 2000

FDA Hears NLP Testimony on GE Foods

“The Food and Drug Administration’s continued effort to deny the dangers of genetic engineering is more than regrettable—it is negligent.” Such was the testimony delivered before an FDA inquiry on November 30 in Washington, D.C., by Ellen Jefferds, NLP congressional candidate for California’s Ninth District.

Ms. Jefferds cited the case of her husband’s cousin, who suffered partial paralysis in 1989 after ingesting the food supplement tryptophan, which had been produced with the aid of genetically altered bacteria. Thirty-seven others died after taking the supplement.

“The FDA’s blind, pro-GE stance,” said Ms. Jefferds, “reveals our government is more interested in promoting corporate profit than in protecting the American people.”

Ms. Jefferds’ testimony was echoed by John Hagelin, who told the inquiry that “genetically engineered crops have fulfilled none of their promises of higher yields or environmental benefits. And since molecular biologists are themselves deeply divided about the safety of these foods, there is no scientific basis for the government’s assurances that the risks are minimal.”

Ms. Jefferds and Dr. Hagelin called for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food products as a minimum response. They pushed the FDA to recommend a moratorium on all GE foods until stricter safety standards are put in place.

An FDA spokesperson says reaction to the hearing has been overwhelming, with more than 25,000 responses to the testimony so far. He expects the FDA to release its recommendations in the late spring.

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