Checks on GM foods "woefully inadequate" (23/3/2006)

According to this article, an Australian food standards spokesperson has responded to a scientist who pointed out that GM products are very poorly regulated, by claiming that no ill effects had been recorded from any of the GM products approved for use in Australia.

But such assurances are a complete nonsense as even the more honest GM proponents are willing to admit. Biotech supporter and former director of the Institute of Arable Crops at Rothamsted, Ben Miflin, admitted in the journal Nature that under current monitoring conditions, any unanticipated health impact of GM foods would need to be a "monumental disaster" to be detectable.

Despite which, the less honest GM proponents will happily assert that, "Foods from biotech crops have not caused even a hiccup"! How exactly they could know that, given there are no mechanisms for monitoring the impacts of GM foods, remains entirely unclear.

Ben 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."

In the same article in Nature the EPA toxicologist, Dr Susan Wuerthele, points out,"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) http://boston.earthsave.org/Nature042299.htm

Checks on GM foods 'woefully inadequate'
Rosslyn Beeby
Canberra Times (Australia), March 22, 2006 Via AgBioView at

A prominent scientist has called for an urgent, independent review of the safety of all genetically engineered drugs and food approved for sale in Australia, following the disastrous results of a clinical drug trial in Britain.

Dr Judy Carman, a senior lecturer in public health at Adelaide University, said the approval process used by regulatory body Food Standards Australia and New Zealand was inadequate and lacked scientific rigour.

"It is based on animal testing data and summary documents provided by the companies seeking approval. There is no way it could be called an independent process," she said.

Dr Carman said no health surveillance systems had been established in Australia to track the impacts of GM foods such as soy, cottonseed oil, corn and food additives such as bulking agents, preservatives and emulsifiers.

"The system is woefully inadequate. If something was going wrong, how would we know? No one is looking at hospital data bases to pick up any signs.

"We need multi-generational testings, we need to look for allergies and we need a minimum six-month period of animal testing on these products before they reach the supermarket shelves."

Anti-GM organisation GeneEthics has also called for stricter labelling and scientific assessment of GM products.

But a food standards spokeswoman said all GM products were subjected to strict safety assessments and no ill effects had been recorded from any of the 27 GM products approved for use in Australia.

These include products that remove the fermentation odour from beer, an enzyme to clarify fruit juices and an emulsifier used in margarine and chocolate.

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