Food Law News - UK - 1999

18 February 1999: GM FOODS - FAC Vote of Confidence in Approval System For GM Foods

FAC News Release (2/99), 18 February 1999

FAC Vote of Confidence in Approval System For GM Foods

The Food Advisory Committee, which met today, has issued the following statement on GM food:

"The on-going debate over the growing of GM crops and the consumption of GM foods covers a wide range of concerns, and central to these is the question of food safety. This is fully addressed in the approval process which GM products have to go through before they can be legally added to food. The approval system is not a toothless wonder - it will stop products from being put on the market unless there is satisfactory evidence of their safety.

"In the UK, the safety of GM foods is evaluated by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, supported by a network of other specialist committees. The independence of the experts on these committees, and the involvement of consumer members are a key features of this system which allows the public to have the utmost confidence in their conclusions. In order to encourage a better understanding of the detailed assessment which leads to the clearance of new products, the ACNFP and other committees have taken a number of steps to open their work up to public scrutiny,

"Since GM ingredients have to be approved at EU level, they can only be put on the market with the agreement of other European countries. This provides a further level of scrutiny to ensure that unsafe products do not slip through the net.

"Specific concerns have been raised recently over the safety of some GM products which are not in commercial production. If the experimental results mentioned in the press are correct, these would not survive the normal approval processes.

"There are similar procedures in place to deal with the other concerns associated with the cultivation of GM crops, and we welcome the steps that the Government is taking to ensure that there is a high degree of co-ordination across the different areas."

A Press Release covering the other items discussed at today's meeting will be issued in due course.

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