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3-Food: China sees no need for controlling GM food

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TITLE:  No mechanism to check safety of modified food
SOURCE: Hong Kong Standard, China
DATE:   May 13, 1999, 1999

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No mechanism to check safety of modified food

HONG KONG has no way of knowing if genetically-modified
foodstuffs being sold here are safe, Secretary for Health and
Welfare Katherine Fok Lo Shiu-ching told the Legislative Council
yesterday. Such foods are those whose original genetic 
composition have been altered through scientific procedures. 
Most common of these are fruits which are modified to make them
bigger and  pest-resistant. "As the Department of Health
currently does not have a special mechanism to regulate 
genetically modified foods, we do not have detailed records of
the types and quantities of such foods being sold in Hong Kong,
and we have not conducted any specific tests on them," Mrs Fok
said. She was replying to a question raised by Frontier
legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing about plans to regulate the
manufacture and sale of such food. Mrs Fok said that the
Department of Health regulated the preparation and sale of all
types of food through the Public Health and Municipal Services
Ordinance. Under section 54 of this ordinance, any person
preparing or selling food for human consumption has the legal
responsibility to ensure that the food prepared or sold is safe.
The Department of Health collects food samples from the market
regularly to ensure their safety standards. Mrs Fok noted that
the types of food available in the market would gradually
increase as the related technology matures. In light of this, she
said the department would examine how to enhance the regulatory
measures to ensure that these foods were safe. The department
would take into account the recommendations of international
authorities and systems adopted in other countries. Mrs Fok ruled
out a suggestion by Frontier legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan to impose
labelling requirements on natural food to provide information to
consumers, saying that such a system would be too expensive to
administer. Liberal Party legislator Howard Young described the
bureau's approach to genetically-modified food as having "three
missings" x no mechanism, no monitoring, no suggestions


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