Gaps in GM tests: scientist (14/10/2004)

Scientist Dr Judy Carmen points out in the article below that a link between human disease and genetically modified food may exist even if such a link is never found

This view is supported by Ben Miflin, former director of the Institute of Arable Crops at Rothamsted, near London, who is a GM proponent. As an article in the journal Nature notes, "He argues that, under current monitoring conditions, any unanticipated health impact of such foods would need to be a 'monumental disaster' to be detectable".

According to the article, "Miflin points out that a general increase in gastrointestinal disorders, for example, would be difficult to attribute to a particular food, given the diverse possible origins of such symptoms."

EPA toxicologist Dr Susan Wuerthele points out in the same article, "It took us 60 years to realize that DDT might have oestrogenic activities and affect humans, but we are now being asked to believe that everything is OK with GM foods because we haven't seen any dead bodies yet."
(Long-term effect of GM crops serves up food for thought, Nature, Volume 398:651)

As Dr Carmen notes, "Consumers get no benefit and they take all the risk.''

More views from scientists:

Gaps in GM tests: scientist
Thursday, October 14

AN anti-genetic engineering scientist is maintaining that a link between human disease and genetically modified food may exist even if such a link is never found.

The Public Health Association of Australia's Dr Judy Carmen told a forum organised by Geelong Organic Gardeners this week that a link would be difficult to prove scientifically because people could not be expected to remember everything they ate.

"There are surveillance systems only for a few existing diseases,'' she said. "There may be only a small possibility of something happening but the consequences could be awful because of the number of people eating GM (genetically modified) food. There is an urgent need to stop and fully test all the GM food on the market, and make sure any new ones get fully tested before they go on the market.''

Dr Carmen said genetically modified products entered the human food chain through modified cottonseed oil, for example in potato chips, and animals fed modified soy meal and and corn, whose milk, eggs or meat could be eaten by humans.

"Consumers get no benefit and they take all the risk,'' she said. Dr Carmen, one of three national and international speakers at the meeting, believes the testing of genetically modified foods is not sufficient to determine a health risk to humans.

She said Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, which regulates the sale of genetically modified foods, required companies to test their own products and present their data for assessment.

Food Standard's website confirms there are no official mechanisms for monitoring the long-term impacts of genetically modified foods, but adds: "Industry must demonstrate . . . that products are safe for human consumption before they can be legally sold in Australia.''

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