The following Policy Statement was approved on June 20, 2012 by the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association.
(1) Our AMA recognizes the continuing validity of the three major conclusions contained in the 1987 National Academy of Sciences white paper "Introduction of Recombinant DNA-Engineered Organisms into the Environment." [The three major conclusions are: (a)There is no evidence that unique hazards exist either in the use of rDNA techniques or in the movement of genes between unrelated organisms; (b) The risks associated with the introduction of rDNA-engineered organisms are the same in kind as those associated with the introduction of unmodified organisms and organisms modified by other methods; (c) Assessment of the risk of introducing rDNA-engineered organisms into the environment should be based on the nature of the organism and the environment into which it is introduced, not on the method by which it was produced.)
(2) That federal regulatory oversight of agricultural biotechnology should continue to be science-based and guided by the characteristics of the plant or animal, its intended use, and the environment into which it is to be introduced, not by the method used to produce it, in order to facilitate comprehensive, efficient regulatory review of new bioengineered crops and foods.
(3) Our AMA believes that as June 2012, there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods, as a class, and that voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education.
(4) Our AMA supports mandatory pre-market systematic safety assessments of bioengineered foods and encourages: (a) development and validation of additional techniques for the detection and/or assessment of unintended effects; (b) continued use of methods to detect substantive changes in nutrient or toxicant levels in bioengineered foods as part of a substantial equivalence evaluation; (c) development and use of alternative transformation technologies to avoid utilization of antibiotic resistance markers that code for clinically relevant antibiotics, where feasible; and (d) that priority should be given to basic research in food allergenicity to support the development of improved methods for identifying potential allergens. The FDA is urged to remain alert to new data on the health consequences of bioengineered foods and update its regulatory policies accordingly.
(5) Our AMA supports continued research into the potential consequences to the environment of bioengineered crops including the: (a) assessment of the impacts of pest-protected crops on nontarget organisms compared to impacts of standard agricultural methods, through rigorous field evaluations; (b) assessment of gene flow and its potential consequences including key factors that regulate weed populations; rates at which pest resistance genes from the crop would be likely to spread among weed and wild populations; and the impact of novel resistance traits on weed abundance; (c) implementation of resistance management practices and continued monitoring of their effectiveness; (d) development of monitoring programs to assess ecological impacts of pest-protected crops that may not be apparent from the results of field tests; and (e) assessment of the agricultural impact of bioengineered foods, including the impact on farmers.
(6) Our AMA recognizes the many potential benefits offered by bioengineered crops and foods, does not support a moratorium on planting bioengineered crops, and encourages ongoing research developments in food biotechnology.
(7) Our AMA urges government, industry, consumer advocacy groups, and the scientific and medical communities to educate the public and improve the availability of unbiased information and research activities on bioengineered foods.