1. 'Science in the media - can you believe it?'
2. U.N. panel calls for allergy tests on GM food
3. Monsanto discussion on combining GM & organics
'Science in the media - can you believe it?'
U.N. panel calls for allergy tests on GM food
January 09, 2001
GENEVA, Jan. 8 (Kyodo) -- A U.N. task force on the safety of genetically
modified food plans to oblige all member countries to conduct strict allergy tests on all such foods, according to its draft guidelines on safety assessment of foods derived from plants through biotechnology.
''When the protein resulting from the inserted gene is present in the food, it should be assessed for potential allergenicity in all cases,'' the draft says.
The Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology (CTFBT) hopes to implement the guideline in 2003 after some 170 member states discuss the draft, U.N. sources said.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission is a Rome-based U.N. organ dedicated to drawing up an international standard for the first time on the safety of genetically modified foods.
The CTFBT obliges parties to carry out serum tests or skin prick tests when they transfer genes into another food from a source with a known history of allergenicity, such as peanuts, the draft says.
The draft says the parties should not put such products on the market without providing ''confirmation that the introduced protein is not allergetic.''
''The transfer of genes from commonly allergenic foods and from foods known to elicit gluten-sensitive enteropathy in sensitive individuals should be discouraged unless it is documented that the transferred gene does not code for an allergen or for a protein involved in gluten-sensitive enteropathy,'' it says.
The CTFBT also calls on parties to conduct various tests, such as serum tests, based on the Codex guideline, even when they transfer genes into another food from a source with no known history of allergenicity, it says.
The draft guidelines comes at a time when public concern is mounting over the safety of genetically modified foods, as exhibited in the discovery of StarLink genetically modified corn in food for human consumption.
The World Health Organization and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization will hold a meeting in Italy in late January to discuss issues involving genes and allergy, according to the U.N. sources.
The draft says food labeling and post-market monitoring would serve as risk management measures for new products.
''Post-market monitoring would be undertaken for the purpose of monitoring changes in nutrient intake levels, associated with the introduction of foods likely to significantly alter nutritional status, to determine their human health impact,'' it says.
The CTFBT says risk communication should include transparent safety assessment and management decision-making processes.
''In particular, reports prepared on the safety assessments and other aspects of the decision-making process should be made available to all interested parties,'' the draft says.
''Efforts should be made to improve the capability of regulatory authorities, particularly those of developing countries, to assess and manage risks associated with foods derived from modern biotechnology or to interpret assessments undertaken by other authorities or recognized expert bodies,'' it says.
2001 Kyodo News (C) Established 1945
What Role Can The Combination Of GM Technology And Organic Farming Methods Have In Sustainable Agriculture And Protecting The Environment?
Traditionally organic farming and, more recently, the use of genetically-modified seeds have lead to the reduction of chemical inputs and to more environmentally friendly crop production. However, despite this similarity, genetically modified plants are often considered to be the opposite of organic crops. Why does this discrepancy exist? Can GM technology and organic farming methods be used simultaneously to protect the environment?