GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS
August 3, 2004
Genetically engineered crops do not pose health risks that cannot also arise from crops created by other techniques, said the National Academy of Sciences in a recently issued report.
The report, which was commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), called for higher scrutiny of genetically engineered (GE) crops:
- Reviews of new GE foods should be performed by the FDA on a case-by-case basis, but should not be mandatory.
- In some cases, surveillance might be needed after a food gets to market to check for possible health effects.
- Some information on the composition of GE foods should be made public rather than kept proprietary.
Both sides in the polarized debate about GE foods found things to praise and criticize in the report. Supporters of GE crops, like Michael Phillips of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, say the report "should lay to rest the few naysayers who continue to question the safety of these crops."
Opponents say the report clearly states that there are unanswered questions about our ability to identify possible mutations that could occur in GE crops and what effects they might have on humans.
Source: Andrew Pollack, "Panel Sees No Unique Risk From Genetic Engineering," New York Times, July 28, 2004; and "Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects," Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies, July 2004.
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