Biotech foods pose no extra health risk

May 28, 2002 in Nutrition Topics in the News

Biotech foods pose no extra health risk

A new report prepared for the US Congress found that consumers who ate bio-engineered foods were not at a higher risk of allergies or toxic reactions. According to the US report, genetically modified foods pose no greater health risk than conventional foods.

Foreign governments, particularly the European Union and China, are considering mandatory labels on biotech foods due to concerns about the risks they pose to the environment and to people. The European Union has banned new biotech crops from other parts of the world for the past three years. The United States is the largest producer of genetically altered corn and soy-based food.

The study said the US FDA had adequately tested the safety of new biotech foods before allowing them to be sold. However, there is still some room for improvement. The General Accounting Office said the FDA should validate more frequently the accuracy of safety data provided by food companies.

The FDA agreed with the recommendations, but said it should not be forced to validate data on a regular basis. The agency said the risk of criminal penalties for submitting false data was a significant deterrent for biotech companies. An FDA risk assessment for a new biotech product averages between 18 months and three years.

A National Academy of Sciences panel in February said the government had allowed food manufacturers to market biotech crops without fully probing their potential environmental impact. The report by Congress' investigative arm did not study the environmental risks of genetically altered food.

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