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codexalimentarius > Themes > Biotechnology

Biotechnology

Biotechnology represents the refinement and extension of the way we produce natural resources for the purpose of human consumption. Today, it allows producers to obtain specific traits such as increased insect resistance or herbicide tolerance, in a controlled manner, making it possible to grow new plants and animals and create desirable, genetically modified food. However, biotechnology has also raised consumer concerns.

The role of Codex in Biotechnology

For many foods, the level of food safety generally accepted by society reflects the history of their safe consumption by humans. The hazards associated with foods are subjected to the Codex risk analysis process to assess potential risks and, if necessary, to develop approaches to manage these risks.

Codex role in biotechnology is primarily concerned with the risk assessment aspect of food safety. Risk assessment includes a safety assessment, which is designed to identify whether a hazard, nutritional or other safety concern is present, and if present, to gather information on its nature and severity. The safety assessment should include a comparison between the food derived from modern biotechnology and its conventional counterpart focusing on determination of similarities and differences. Codex has developed texts relevant to labelling of foods derived from modern biotechnology.

Related Codex Texts

Reference Title Committee Last modified
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CAC/GL 44-2003Principles for the Risk Analysis of Foods Derived from Modern BiotechnologyTFFBT2011
CAC/GL 45-2003Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA PlantsTFFBT2008
CAC/GL 46-2003Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Produced Using Recombiant-DNA Microorganisms TFFBT2003
CAC/GL 74-2010Guidelines on Performance Criteria and Validation of Methods for Detection, Identification and Quantification of Specific DNA Sequences and Specific Proteins in FoodsCCMAS2010
CAC/GL 76-2011Compilation of Codex texts relevant to the labelling of foods derived from modern biotechnologyCCFL2011
CAC/GL 68-2008Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA AnimalsTFFBT2008

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Key Facts

  • Biotechnology encompasses a wide range of traditional and cutting-edge technologies
  • GM crops have been grown commercially since the mid 1990s
  • Codex provides a framework for undertaking risk analysis on the safety and nutritional aspects of foods derived from modern biotechnology
  • A safety assessment should include a comparison between the food derived from modern biotechnology and its conventional counterpart focusing on determination of similarities and differences

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