Safety concerns threaten GM talks

14 January 2000

Safety concerns threaten GM talks

By FWi staff

NEGOTIATIONS on the environmental impact of GM crops could be wrecked if Europe persists on pursuing food safety, the USA has warned

The European Union has been warned by Washington not to push for food safety controls on genetically modified plants at forthcoming talks.

David Sandalow, US assistant secretary of state, whose brief includes the environment, scientific matters and the oceans, made the warning in Brussels.

It came during a visit ahead of a meeting meet in Montreal later this month where delegates hope to draw up a UN-sponsored Biosafety Protocol.

“The Protocol is intended to focus on the effects of trade in GMOs on biodiversity,” said Mr Sandalow.

But he added: “If it becomes a debate on food safety we cannot succeed. “Food safety discussions are more appropriate in other forums.”

Mr Sandalow urged the EU to look at the benefits of biotechnology rather than stress the potential risks of GM crops on human health and the environment.

Last year, a similar conference in Colombia broke up without agreement after plans to labelling GMOs were blocked by the US-led Miami Group of countries.

The Miami group also includes the countries of Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia and Chile.

Earlier this week, Professor Sir John Krebs, the newly-appointed chief of Britains Food Standards Agency, said he believed GM foods were safe.

However, Sir John added that his personal views would not affect the agencys position on the issue.

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