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8-Misc: FAO favours caution on GMOs



----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  U.N. agency says favours caution on GMOs
SOURCE: Reuters, by Paule Bonjean
DATE:   March 3, 2000

-------------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ --------------------


U.N. agency says favours caution on GMOs

PARIS - The U.N.'s world food body favours caution in the use of 
biotechnology because of fears about its effects on health and the 
environment, according to a document obtained by Reuters. The Rome-
based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that although 
genetically-modified crops could help combat world hunger, they had 
also raised concerns about their implications for animal and human 
health and the balance of ecosystems.

Qualifying these worries as "legitimate," the agency said it was 
vital to consider the pros and cons of each new genetically-modified 
organism (GMO). "The FAO favours a system of evaluation based on 
scientific methods which would objectively determine the advantages 
and the risks linked to each GMO," it said. "This implies adopting a 
precautionary approach, studying case by case the legitimate 
preoccupations raised by each product or procedure before it becomes 
widespread," it added.

The document was provided to Reuters by FAO officials attending 
France's Farm Show this week. The agency said that it was convinced 
of the importance of biotechnology in preventing food shortages in 
the future and was therefore recommending a code of good conduct for 
all players involved. The FAO was most concerned about the risk of 
unexpected allergic reactions and the appearance of new plant 
varieties with a greater resistance to illness and ecological stress, 
which would thwart the balance of ecosystems.

It was also worried about the loss of traditional crops, especially 
in developing countries. It noted that industrialised nations were 
likely to benefit most from biotechnology research. The FAO said it 
was planning to create an international committee of experts in food 
and agricultural ethics. "However, it is incumbent on member 
governments to formulate policies on the matter," it added.


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