January 10, 2003
Brussels - Friday - 10 January 2003 - Documentation showing that the US government allows the biotechnology industry to police itself on safety testing of GM crops will be presented today at a meeting hosted by the German Marshall Fund in Brussels on GM crops, by Consumers International representative, Dr. Michael Hansen.
Dr. Hansen will provide letters written by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to Monsanto accepting at face value Monsanto's own conclusions regarding the safety of their GM corn variety (see attached media briefing for excerpts of the letters)
Dr. Hansen also states that, contrary to the impression given by US ambassadors in Europe and elsewhere, the US government does not have rigorous standards for safety assessments on GM crops, does not thoroughly review company data, and has never formally approved any of the GM corn varieties grown in the US.
These allegations come at a critical time as the US government is making every effort to persuade both European and African governments that GM crops are thoroughly reviewed and that anyone raising questions about safety is ignorant and acting immorally.
"Consumers worldwide and especially in the US are outraged that the US government is threatening the EU with WTO challenges for refusing to accept GM corn until comprehensive labelling and traceability systems are in place, when they themselves do not formally review and approve the safety of the GM corn varieties grown in the US" said Dr. Hansen.
Dr. Hansen further criticised the FDA for failing to follow through on regulatory improvements proposed in 2001. "Back in 1992, the FDA claimed that GM technology is similar to traditional breeding and would therefore be regulated in the same way (see attached media briefing for excerpts from FDA's policy document). Then, in 2001, the FDA admitted that there is a difference between traditional breeding and GM technology and proposed that there should be mandatory notification of GM food marketing and a mandatory FDA data review. However, they have still not issued any such regulation"
Consumers Union (CU) in the US and Consumers International (CI) worldwide are calling on the US government to stop pressurising the EU and Africa to accept its GM corn and instead get its own house in order by conducting mandatory safety reviews of data provided by the biotechnology industry and prohibiting the marketing of GM crops unless they have been approved by the FDA. CU and CI point out that Africa's food needs could be met with non-GMO foods. They note that 70 % of the corn grown in the US is not genetically modified.
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Maya Vaughan, Consumers International on tel. +44 (0) 20 7226 6663 ext. 219 or mobile: +44 (0)7931 798 086 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
2. Michael Hansen, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Associate focussing on biotechnology for the Consumers Policy Institute, a division of Consumers Union, the largest consumer organization in the United States. He represents Consumers International at UN bodies that establish international standards on genetically modified food, including the Codex Committee on Food Labelling and the Codex Ad Hoc Task Force on Foods Derived from Modern Biotechnology. For more information, see www.consumersunion.org.
3. Consumers International is a federation of consumer organisations dedicated to the protection and promotion of consumers' rights worldwide through empowering national consumer groups and campaigning at the international level. It currently represents over 250 organisations in 115 countries. For more information, see: www.consumersinternational.org
4. The German Marshall Fund Meeting takes place between January 10-12. The focus of the meeting is on how the transatlantic dynamics regarding agricultural biotechnology are affecting developing countries in Africa as they confront issues associated with the importing and growing of GM crops and products.
5. Consumers International position on the issue of GM food aid to
Africa can be seen in the attached letter to James Morris, Director of
the World Food Programme. Click here to see full letter:
6. The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is an American institution that stimulates the exchange of ideas and promotes cooperation between the United States and Europe in the spirit of the post war Marshall Plan. GMF was created in 1972 by a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to Marshall Plan aid.
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Last Updated on 1/10/03