News Roundup

GM foods should be submitted to further studies, says BMA

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7440.602-a (Published 11 March 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:602
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. London

    More research is needed to show that genetically modified (GM) food crops and ingredients are safe for people and the environment and that they offer real benefits over traditionally grown foods, says a BMA report.

    The report calls for more long term research into the potential of GM food to cause allergies, although it acknowledges that preliminary, short term studies of GM foods have not shown any health risks. It says that more research is also needed on the impact of GM foods in vulnerable groups, such as babies, elderly people, and people with chronic diseases, and that the health effects generally of GM foods should be closely monitored.

    Consumer and other groups that have taken part in debates on GM foods have called for an end to the sale of GM foods in the United Kingdom and a continuation of the moratorium on farming GM crops. They also want to dispel the assumption that GM foods are needed to feed starving populations, as overcoming famine is more complex than simply growing more food, they say.

    The report concludes: “The Royal Society review (2002) concluded that the risks to human health associated with the use of specific viral DNA sequences in GM plants are negligible, and while calling for caution in the introduction of potential allergens into food crops, stressed the absence of evidence that commercially available GM foods cause clinical allergic manifestations.”

    “The BMA shares the view that there is no robust evidence to prove that GM foods are unsafe, but we endorse the call for further research and surveillance to provide convincing evidence of safety and benefit.”

    Genetically Modified Food and Health: A Second Interim Statement is accessible at www.bma.org.uk/GMFoods