The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require that testing methods be put in place before new biotech crops are released into the marketplace.

In written comments to FDA, GMA said it strongly supports a mandatory premarket notification process for biotech foods, and suggested that requiring a testing method for a biotech crop would permit organizations "throughout the food chain to have confidence in the identity of the product."

GMA urged FDA to require the development of a "validated analytical test method" at the time that a genetically modified food is being considered by the agency under the consultation process, a period during which all genetically modified food undergoes review by FDA.

"This will make an already effective regulatory system more open and transparent, which is a positive step for consumers," said Lisa Katic, GMA director of scientific and nutrition policy.

GMA endorses the presumption of generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status for genetically modified food containing transferred genetic material or the products of that material when they do not differ significantly from other substances commonly found in food at comparable or greater levels.

Starlink, a type of biotech corn not approved for human consumption, was found in taco chips last fall, prompting a massive recall of more than 300 products.

Because many countries will not accept foods made from biotech crops, and some require such foods to be labeled, Katic said it is imperative for manufacturers to be able to tell whether ingredients include gene-altered crops.