Iowa Public Television


Report: More Oversight Needed on GMOs

posted on July 30, 2004

There was an important new scientific study released this week on food products made from genetically engineered plants. The report by the National Academies concludes that while the process of making biotech foods is NOT inherently dangerous, it can cause unintended changes in food composition.

The report also found that while the potential for GMO food production is enormous, limitations in human understanding of the new science must be remedied.

Report: More Oversight Needed on GMOs The gist of the report by the National Academies was that federal regulators should pay closer attention to the potential health effects of some genetically modified plants. The study also said officials should check for potential food safety problems after people eat genetically engineered products.

Bettie Sue Masters, Report Chair: "Any technology used to modify genes, whether genetic engineering or other methods, carries the potential for introducing unintended compositional changes that may have adverse effects on human health."

The report, which was requested by USDA and other federal agencies, recommended three things: a standard for decision-making ... improvements in tracking foods that enter the marketplace ... and, research needs to fill gaps in data.

Close study on a case-by-case basis also should take place, the report said, before modified commercial crops are approved. To help regulators in making decisions, the report said a database should be developed to list compounds ranging from healthful proteins to potentially dangerous allergens.

Bettie Sue Masters: "For those foods warranting further evaluations, the committee recommends that safety assessment begin prior to commercial release of the product and continue in the post-commercialization phase when safety concerns are present."

Tags: biotechnology crops food safety genetic engineering news