…while others believe Britainneeds better scrutiny of GMOs

14 August 1998

…while others believe Britain
needs better scrutiny of GMOs

BRITAIN needs far better control and management when it comes to the release of genetically modified organisms, according to two guest contributors to the Financial Times.

They say that the current system is based on the assumption that the supposed benefits of the new technology will outweigh unforeseen risks.

An emphasis has been placed on the speed in making decisions in the race to develop lucrative new products, rather than a careful assessment of risks to human health and the environment.

The authors of the article, Ray Purdy, a research associate, and Martin Hession, a lecturer in environmental law at the Environmental Policy and Management Group, T.H. Huxley School, Imperial College, believe the present system “leaves a lot to be desired”.

They claim those responsible for granting applications for the release of GMOs are unpaid scientists who have not been given adequate time to evaluate the risks involved.

“Heavy reliance on scientists discretion and industries good faith could be difficult to justify to the less trusting,” the article says.

They argue that the current approach can be questioned in every significant area: from the quality of the initial assessment, through the Governments evaluation of risk, to monitoring in the field and enforcement.

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