Royal Society asks: where is the evidence that GM foods are unsafe?

May 12, 2003

Brussels, 09 May 2003

As yet there is no evidence that foodstuffs containing ingredients from genetically modified (GM) plants are any less safe than their non GM counterparts, claims a new policy statement issued by the UK's Royal Society on 8 May.

In its submissions to the government sponsored GM science review, the Royal Society says there is no credible evidence that human health can be damaged by eating GM foods. It adds that the potential of modified ingredients to reduce nutritional quality or cause allergic reactions is in principal no different to conventional foods.

'The public have been told for several years that GM foods are inherently unsafe to eat,' said Professor Patrick Bateson, Vice-President of the Royal Society. 'We have examined the results of published research, and have found nothing to indicate that GM foods are inherently unsafe. If anybody does have convincing evidence, get it out in the open so that it can be evaluated.'

Professor Bateson accepted that some important questions regarding the potential impact of GM crops on the environment still remain unanswered, but warned that this issue is being obscured by a 'smokescreen of unfounded claims' regarding their impact on human health.

The producers of GM products, he went on, have not yet successfully demonstrated to consumers what benefits they offer compared with conventional foods, implying that until they can, the opposition that the majority of the public feels towards GM foods is unlikely to change.

In its submissions, the Royal Society also called on the UK Food Standards Agency to ensure that all foods, including those containing GM ingredients, are properly assessed.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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