national harmonization of nutrient-based recommendations that would serve, where warranted, for all of North America. To this end, in December 1995, FNB began a close collaboration with the government of Canada and took action to establish the DRI Standing Committee.
The 1993 symposium and subsequent activities provided substantial evidence that a comprehensive, coordinated approach to developing DRIs was needed for diet planning, nutritional assessment, and nutrition policy development. The current framework is based on the following four assumptions:
Since the publication of the tenth edition of Recommended Dietary Allowances (NRC, 1989b) in the United States and the RNIs in Canada (Canada, 1990), there has been a significant expansion and evolution of the research base toward defining functional endpoints that are relevant to the understanding of nutrient requirements and food constituents and their relationship to a number of aspects of human health.
These advances allow the refinement of the conceptual framework for quantitatively defining nutrient requirements, as well as a clearer determination of the legitimate uses of nutrient requirement estimates and their derivatives in the interpretation and use of dietary intake data. Such uses might broadly be categorized according to whether they are: (a) prescriptive or planning applications, where suitable levels of nutrient intake by individuals and population groups are established, or (b) diagnostic or assessment applications, where determinations are made about the likely nutritional adequacy of the observed intake when considered in relation to appropriate nutrient requirement data. Major differences in the types of information required about nutrient needs and relevant nutrient intake data are fundamental to appropriately focusing on the individual or on a defined population group (Beaton, 1994).
Neither the RDAs nor the RNIs have been applied appropriately in many settings. The availability of only a single type of reference value in the face of various needs has led to inappropriate applications. Moreover, inconsistent methods and criteria for deriving certain RDAs and RNIs and insufficient documentation of methods and criteria have also contributed to inappropriate applications.
In these times of extensive international collaboration, agricultural and food exchange, and global nutrition-related health prob-