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GM monitoring preferred - study suggests

24-Aug-2001

According to a new Canadian federal study, a chief safety officer should be appointed to oversee the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods in Canada, reports CBC News.


However, according to the interim report released on August 23, mandatory labelling should be adopted only if voluntary standards do not work.


Long-term monitoring of health effects is essential, according to the study, which is called "Improving the Regulation of Genetically Modified Foods and other Novel Foods in Canada."


It says the role of a GM safety officer would be to separate two sometimes conflicting roles of the federal government: the promotion and regulation of Canada's biotech industry.


The Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee, whose members are federally appointed, prepared the study.


It recommends a centralised information system to help consumers know what GM content is in the foods they eat.


Currently, Canadian standards are more permissive than in Europe. A recent study in Canada proposed that food could be labelled GM-free if it contained up to five per cent genetically modified material.


In February, the Royal Society of Canada, considered as the country's top science academy, made 50 recommendations to tighten regulations pertaining to GM foods, and claimed that consumers are not adequately protected from risks of genetically modified foods.


The issue of permissible GM content in food concerns many Canadian farmers who grow crops aimed at European markets. Guidelines that allow up to five per cent GM content in Canada are five times more generous than European regulations.

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