NY AG's DNA barcoding not used by FDA for plant identification


SILVER SPRING, Md. — A Food and Drug Administration letter to the Senate called into question the validity of the kind of DNA barcoding technology New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman used as a basis for requesting four retailers to stop selling certain herbal supplements because they did not contain the ingredients posted on the label. 


In a letter to Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, FDA on Wednesday acknowledged that the agency is "not currently using DNA-sequencing agency-wide for plant identification" and "if FDA were to use DNA methods on botanical extracts, we would use them in combination with established chemical or other acceptable methods historically used to verify the identity of these products."


However, the agency declined to question specifically the validity NY AG's testing methods, as the FDA "has not received the testing methodology or results from the New York Attorney General."


"FDA’s response is helpful as other State Attorneys General and the media evaluate what’s going on in New York," stated Mike Greene, VP government relations for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. "In our ongoing discussions with State AGs and the press, we continue to emphasize that the NY AG used the wrong test, leading to inaccurate conclusions, and that FDA has ample and appropriate good manufacturing regulations in place to help ensure that consumers are getting products that contain what’s on the label," he said. "We will share this letter widely as it confirms many of the things we have been saying. The fact is there are regulations in place, and responsible companies are following those regulations.”


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