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Perry Adkisson
We expected some people to question are impartiality
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
GM food 'safe'
French protest
Protests against GM crops have been fierce in Europe
A leading US research organisation has called for better regulation of genetically-modified (GM) crops but says there is nothing to suggest they are unsafe.

Food under the microscope
In a report, the National Research Council (NRC) said the US Government should adopt flexible rules that can be updated "to reflect improved scientific understanding".


PA Aptn
Perry Adkisson: Committee concentrated on the science
The report will strengthen the hand of those scientists, companies and governments in favour of GM crops.

The NRC report argues that there is no clear distinction between crops genetically engineered through modern molecular techniques and those modified by conventional breeding practices.

Just because a plant is modified, does not mean it dangerous, the report states.

The NRC said it was not aware of any evidence that foods containing GM ingredients on the market today were unsafe to eat.

Protests

A handful of protesters demonstrated outside the NRC press conference demanding the withdrawal of the report arguing that the research was tainted by links between the scientists and the biotech industry.

"A panel that leans overwhelmingly toward a pro-biotech position, including members on the payroll of the biotech industry, cannot be expected to produce an independent report with an objective conclusion," said Representative Dennis Kucinich, who joined the protesters from environmental and consumer groups.


Food label
GM foodstuffs appear in a range of products
The protestors called for a moratorium on further plantings and careful research into the possibility of plants developing resistance to pests.

But this was rejected by the council in favour of better regulation, research and public information.

"Public acceptance of these foods ultimately depends on the credibility of the testing and regulatory process," said the NRC committee chair, Perry Adkisson.

Huge areas in the United States are now planted with GM crops - especially maize and soybeans.

Some farmers have reduced GM crop planting in the face of consumer resistance, especially in Europe. However the debate in the US has not been as intense as in Europe and there is far less public hostility.

The NRC is an arm of US National Academy of Sciences.

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See also:

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GM wheat 'could aid Third World'
01 Jun 99 | South Asia
Row over hybrid crops
31 Jan 00 | Sci/Tech
No reliable test for GM-free food
23 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
GM genes refuse to budge
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