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[SANET-MG] nas ge foods report 2004
The report described below is found
The report strangely mainly ignores the fact that the transgenes used
in GE crops are highly altered synthetic copies of the natural genes.
Those genes , unlike natural genes, never evolved.
July 28, 2004 ny times
Panel Sees No Unique Risk From Genetic Engineering
By ANDREW POLLACK
Genetically engineered crops do not pose health risks that cannot also
arise from crops created by other techniques, including conventional
breeding, the National Academy of Sciences said in a report issued
The conclusion backs the basic approach now underlying government
oversight of biotech foods, that special food safety regulations are not
needed just because foods are genetically engineered.
Nevertheless, the report said that genetic engineering and other
techniques used to create novel crops could result in unintended,
harmful changes to the composition of food, and that scrutiny of such
crops should be tightened before they go to market.
"The most important message from this report is that it's the product
that matters, not the system you are using to produce it," Jennifer
Hillard, a consumer advocate from Canada who was on the committee that
wrote the report, said in a telephone news conference. Committee members
said the genetically engineered foods already on the market are safe.
The study, "Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to
Assessing Unintended Health Effects," is somewhat vague on how
regulations should change, but rather deals more with the science needed
to determine whether food from genetically engineered crops and animals
might be harmful.
It does not, for instance, explicitly recommend mandatory reviews of new
genetically engineered foods by the Food and Drug Administration. It
says that assessments should be made on a case-by-case basis. Right now,
companies that create such crops voluntarily consult with the F.D.A.
The report suggests that in some cases, surveillance might be needed
after a food gets to the market to check for possible health effects,
something not done now. It also calls for some information on the
composition of genetically modified foods to be made public rather than
Both sides in the polarized debate about genetically engineered foods
found things to like and not like in the report.
"They've clearly identified that there are significant problems with our
technological ability to both identify changes that might happen in G.E.
crops as well as to evaluate what those changes might mean," said Doug
Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety in
Washington, which opposes biotech crops.
But backers of biotech were heartened by the report's determination that
the risks of biotech foods are not unique. Michael Phillips, vice
president of agricultural science and regulatory policy of the
Biotechnology Industry Organization, said in a statement that the report
"should lay to rest the few naysayers who continue to question the
safety of these crops."
The report was commissioned by the three agencies that regulate
genetically engineered crops: the F.D.A, the Department of Agriculture
and the Environmental Protection Agency. It was produced by a committee
of mostly academic scientists led by Bettie Sue Masters, of the
department of biochemistry at the University of Texas Health Science
Center in San Antonio.
Genetic engineering involves the transfer of a specific gene from one
organism to another. Cross-breeding, by contrast, involves the mixing of
thousands of genes, most unknown. Another breeding technique is to
bombard plants with radiation or expose them to chemicals to induce
hundreds of random mutations in hopes of finding one that will confer a
The report said that genetic engineering was more likely to cause
unintended effects than the other techniques used to develop plants
except for the mutation-inducing technique.
Right now, crops produced by techniques other than genetic engineering
go through virtually no regulatory scrutiny.
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