The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the scientific arm of the United Nation’s World Health Organization, has decided to continue to review the safety and efficacy of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST).
Official word of that decision is likely to come Saturday from Rome, when the Commission wraps up its 35th annual meeting.
Elanco, which markets rBST both in the United States and globally where it is registered for use, welcomed the news in a statement released this week.
“Elanco respects the decision taken by Codex regarding the global food safety standards for rbST,” says Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco. “We compliment the large number of countries at Codex that expressed support at this session for the adoption of food standards for rbST.
“Global dairy innovations, such as rbST, are and will continue to be instrumental in meeting the rising demand for safe, wholesome dairy products. Codex standards provide an international food safety reference point that helps assure consumers that their food is safe,” he says.
Codex uses an eight-step process to assess the safety and efficacy of animal health and crop protection products. rBST has been largely dormant at Step 8 for the past eight years, according to company sources. But neither Elanco, or previous BST-manufacturer Monsanto, had pushed for moving the process along during that time.
Last year, with the support of Elanco, Chile requested that Codex move rBST through final approval. Keeping rBST at Step 8 was a consensus opinion of Codex members. Now, the Codex scientific committee will again review existing and any new studies. That process will take another 18 months, at which time rBST will be up for the adoption of Codex food standards for rBST.
Even then, passage is not assured. One of Elanco’s pork products, Ractopamine, took three such review periods to be finally approved. It was just approved this year on a 69-67 vote.
Individual countries, of course, are free to decide whether products are used within their borders. Some countries, however, rely on the Codex Commission because they might not have sufficient resources to conduct their own scientific reviews. Codex approval also gives a product an international stamp of approval.
rBST was approved for use in the United States on Nov. 5, 1993.