Experts agree global safety rules for GM foods
All foods made using biotechnology should be subject to pre-marketing safety assessments and nations should be free to use tracing systems as part of their risk management procedures for such products, a UN task force on foods derived from biotechnology has concluded.
The group\'s draft principles on the risk analysis and management of biotech foods mark a significant step forward in the global management of genetically modified (GM) foods and appear to vindicate, at least partially, the EU\'s insistence on introducing a system to enable tracing GM foods (ED 26/07/01).
Negotiations to draw up the principles began in 2000 and concluded successfully in Japan last week. The resulting draft principles will be now forwarded for adoption by the UN Codex alimentarius commission next year. This sets standards in all areas of food production and regulation. While these are technically voluntary, they generally gain some type of legal authority once they are adopted by the World trade organisation and other international bodies, as well as national governments.
As agreed, the draft biotech food principles call for all foods to be safety assessed on a case-by-case basis, with \"both intended and unintended effects\" considered. \"New or altered hazards\" should be identified as should changes in key nutrients \"relevant to human health\", the principles state.
Nations should also be free to employ a range of risk-management measures including post-market monitoring. Such monitoring may necessitate a GM food tracing system, which would also allow products to be withdrawn if negative effects on human health are identified, the principles add.
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