The fact remains that there is very little, if any, monitoring of the health effects of GM foods and therefore claims as to the satisfactory track record of GM foods are not based on data.
Such data-less claims by apparently eminent scientists are made despite the fact that each year in the US there are now 5,000 deaths, 325,000 hospitalizations and 76 million illnesses caused by food poisoning.
"The C.D.C. [Centres for Disease Control] now says that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the United States as scientists thought just seven years ago," reports the New York Times, 18 March (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/18/health/18FOOD.html ).
Interestingly this time period coincides with the increasing introduction of GMOs into the US food chain. No link between these two elements has been established and maybe there isn't one. But who's checking?
Is this the same coincidence as the unprecedented 50% increase in soya allergies after the UK started importing GM soya? (see: http://www.ethicalinvesting.com/monsanto/news/10037.htm ).
To make matters worse: "At least 80 percent of food-related illnesses are caused by viruses or other pathogens that scientists cannot even identify", according to the New York Times and although "many of the illnesses stem from improper handling of food, either by kitchen workers or consumers themselves...some health officials say this has always been the case and, if anything, treatment of food has improved over the years".
Whether or not GMOs are implicated in any of this scenario, the truth is no one has a clue what is going on and without any epidemiological studies we are unlikely to be any the wiser this side of a catastrophe:
"The need for careful monitoring is urgent, given that the introduction of thousands of GM foods on a global scale appears imminent, says Suzanne Wuerthele, a risk assessor at the US Environmental Protection Agency, speaking in a personal capacity.
This view is supported by Ben Miflin, former director of the Institute of Arable Crops at Rothamsted, near London, who is a proponent of the potential benefits of genetic modification of crops. He argues that, under current monitoring conditions, any unanticipated health impact of such foods would need to be a 'monumental disaster' to be detectable." Nature, Volume 398:651, April 22, 1999
It is especially significant that a UK government official admitted earlier this month that, as a result of a UK public inquiry into GM Chardon LL forage maize forced by Friends of the Earth and other protesters: "....things should have been more properly assessed, reviewing all the issues in respect to safety.....The Chardon LL hearing has raised several safety concerns for government regarding human health." http://www.i-sis.org/AEBCnorwich-pr.shtml )
Chardon LL has been claimed throughout by its developers, Aventis, to have been rigorously safety tested.
Is it any wonder therefore that only 36 per cent of the British public now believe what the food industry tells them about GM foods according to a poll in yesterday's London Times http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,72-101381,00.html )?