8 October 1999

GMsafety manual

A GROUP of US scientists has developed a "how-to manual" to help regulators, policy makers and the general public examine the risks of genetically modified organisms.

While Richard Morningstar, newly-appointed United States ambassador to the EU, accuses Europeans of politics and demagoguery in regulating GMOs, the group of scientists say US regulations are scientifically inadequate.

Filling gap

Their manual aims to fill that gap. Beth Burrows, director of The Edmonds Institute, a non-profit public interest group based in the state of Washington says she was told it would take 100 scientists 20 years to develop a detailed manual on evaluating the safety of genetically engineered organisms.

Instead it took 11 scientists from a variety of disciplines including microbiology, human nutrition and ecology close to two years to produce the Manual for Assessing Ecological and Human Health Effects of Genetically Engineered Organisms.

"Its accessible to non-scientists," says Ms Burrows. She hopes farmers and others will use it to learn what questions they should ask regulators and seed companies to ensure GMs are safe before being used commercially

The two-volume manual underwent a double-blind peer review and is available free of charge from the Internet at http://www.edmonds-institute.org/manual.html.