GENET archive


8-Misc: OECD conference on GE crops and food (2): Skewed representation towards GE promoting participants

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TITLE:  Activists say rich nations promoting GM foods
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   February 29, 2000

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Activists say rich nations promoting GM foods

EDINBURGH - Environmentalists and activists accused the world's rich 
nations on Monday of stage-managing a global conference on 
genetically modified foods to calm public fears. Activists said a 
three-day Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development 
(OECD) conference on GM foods which began yesterday in Scotland was 
little more than an apology for the global biotechnology industry.

A handful of environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of 
the Earth were invited to the conference, as well as one scientist 
known for his opposition to GM foods and an outspoken consumer rights 
group. But activists said that was not enough to counter dozens of 
representatives from biotechnology companies and scientists keen to 
promote research and commercialisation of GM crops and foods.

"The overall weight of the conference is skewed toward scientists and 
industry officials who are in favour of GM foods," Robin Harper, a 
Green Party member of the new Scottish Parliament, told a news 
conference. Activists, holding a separate, smaller gathering about GM 
foods in offices of the new Scottish parliament, said U.S. and 
British regulators were not listening seriously enough to fears about 
GM foods.

The U.S.-based Alliance for Bio-Integrity, a consumer activist group, 
said a 1998 lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to 
obtain mandatory testing of all GM foods had exposed serious doubts 
among scientists within the FDA that GM foods were as safe as their 
conventional counterparts. "People are eating these foods daily. We 
need to face facts that there are a lot of scientists unsure about 
the safety of GM foods and thoroughly test these products before they 
are approved," Steven Druker, coordinator of the lawsuit, told the 
news conference.

The FDA said its scientists who questioned the safety of GM foods 
were doing their job as part of the agency's regulatory process, and 
that their views were taken into account in the FDA's final policy. 
Although it is confident GM foods widely used in the United States 
are safe, the FDA is currently considering the labelling of GM foods 
after three public consulations, said James Maryanski, biotechnology 
coordinator at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.


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