Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

Networking For A Better Future - News and perspectives you may not find in the media

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October 14, 2004

Thailand: World Health Organization Urges Research Into Safety Of Transgenic Foods

In what seems to be the first high level admission that we really don't know whether genetically modified foods are beneficial or damaging to health, the World Health Organization's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has called for more research into the health risks possibly posed by transgenic foods.

While consumer rights activists called for application of the precautionary principle, already in force for environmental toxins, to transgenic foods, FAO's assistant director-general Hartwig de Haen said the organisation recommended that governments strictly follow the international guideline on scientific risk assessment before approving the use of transgenic crop varieties.

Real consumer choice on GM foods comes with labeling, which the European Union has made mandatory recently. Most Canadians are in favor of labeling guidelines for transgenic foods as unease grows over the new and essentially untested technology of foreign gene transfer in crops and animals. In the US, the GM debate has started, but consumers seem largely unaware of the issues involved.

Consumers International, a world wide consumer body, is getting in on the act with a campaign to press for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in seeds, crops and foodstuffs, while putting stringent safeguards in place for GM foods already in the market.

The loophole through which the genetically modified Camel normally seems to jump is called "substantial equivalence". It is a priciple, according to which a traditional food can be used to comparatively estimate the nutritional properties and safety of its genetically modified cousin. Of course that is nonsense. Real safety assessment with transgenic foods can only come from feeding studies which however the authorities do not require for approval of the foods. Thus, the admission of FAO officials is significant, although they are at pains to point out that there is no (scientific) evidence that GM foods are dangerous. No wonder, the studies have not been performed.

But GM seeds are "good business" as they establish a de facto seed monopoly.

After Monsanto's Supreme Court victory over Percy Schmeiser, a farmer accused of profiting from genetically modified seeds he never bought (and never doused with Monsanto's Roundup poison), the fundamental question gets raised whether it is right for seeds and organisms to be patented at all. Nobel prize winner Wangari Maathai equates genetic engineering with food insecurity. Meanwhile, Monsanto keeps close tabs on North American farmers and seed dealers across the country, bringing multiple "seed piracy" cases to the point that, in the words of one American farmer, farmers get sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell.


Bangkok Post, 13 Oct 2004

The World Health Organisation yesterday suggested Thailand conduct further research on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so that an early action plan can be implemented to cope with possible health risks posed by transgenic food.

"At this point, we have no evidence to say that it is dangerous to consume food products that contain GMOs, but at the same time we also don't know its negative side. So, we have to say that we do not know the adverse health effects of GM food," WHO assistant director-general Kerstin Leitner said yesterday.

The WHO suggested studies be conducted in order to be sure that should there be a negative health effect, appropriate action could be taken, said Ms Leitner, who was in Bangkok to attend a three-day international conference - the second Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators - organised by the WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

With more than 500 food safety regulators and scientists from 104 countries participating, the conference aims to strengthen food safety controls in developing countries and to improve response to trans-boundary food safety emergencies.

The delegates were greeted by about 30 consumer rights activists who called on the WHO and FAO to support ''precautionary principle'' in assessing the safety of GM products. ''Food safety is a public health issue. If science cannot assess the possible risks [from GMOs] accurately, precautionary principle should be applied,'' they said.

The activists also called on the FAO and the WHO to monitor multinational companies which have already launched GMO field experiments in many countries, including Thailand.

FAO assistant director-general Hartwig de Haen said the organisation recommended that governments strictly follow the international guideline on scientific risk assessment before approving the use of transgenic crop varieties. So far the FAO had not found any evidence of GMOs having a bad health effect on humans.

See also:

Bush suppresses GM crop warnings
Leaked report acknowledges genetic threat
Mon 18 October 2004 - MEXICO/Mexico City
"The recognition of real environmental risks of GE maize and the consequent recommendation to mill US maize upon entry into Mexico will clearly damage the US position in its WTO case against Europe. It is no wonder they worked so hard to try to prevent its release."

Schmeiser's Battle for the Seed

The Campaign to label genetically modified foods

GM Watch

The Myth and Necessity of GM Free Zones

Agriculture: Chemicals GMO Failing - Try Organic, Sustainable

GM crops like thalidomide say insurance companies

Independent Science Panel on GM

Are superweeds going to kill Monsanto?

FDA - Monsanto: dangerous relations


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Thursday October 14 2004
updated on Sunday November 21 2010

URL of this article:





Readers' Comments

What I have heard, according to the Jeff Rense Program, is that Monsanto "representatives" have actually been caught in Canada -- spreading the GM seeds in ditches adjacent to fields not containing the seeds. Then, when the innocent farmer's crop is found to be contaminated, Monsanto sues and may eventually take over the farm. So we certainly need to be vigilant to make sure this doesn't happen, and work to label ALL GM foods as well. If the GM stuff is so great, why not label it as most people support? Today I was grocery shopping and I saw "Grapples" -- apples artificially flavored to taste like grapes. But what is the point? Surely there is a better natural way to achieve the same flavor. Let's demand better natural and organic foods so the GMO bullies just blow away -- like the Frankenseeds they secretly spread to desecrate our sacred fields!

Posted by: Ardillero on October 16, 2004 12:29 AM


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