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3-Food: Australian scientist calls checks on GM foods 'woefully inadequate'



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TITLE:  Checks On GM Foods 'Woefully Inadequate'
SOURCE: Canberra Times, Australia, by Rosslyn Beeby
        http://www.agbios.com/main.php?action=ShowNewsItem&id=7400
DATE:   22 Mar 2006

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Checks On GM Foods 'Woefully Inadequate'

A prominent scientist has called for an urgent, independent review of the
safety of all genetically engineered drugs and food approved for sale in
Australia, following the disastrous results of a clinical drug trial in
Britain.

Dr Judy Carman, a senior lecturer in public health at Adelaide
University, said the approval process used by regulatory body Food
Standards Australia and New Zealand was inadequate and lacked scientific
rigour.

"It is based on animal testing data and summary documents provided by the
companies seeking approval. There is no way it could be called an
independent process," she said.

Dr Carman said no health surveillance systems had been established in
Australia to track the impacts of GM foods such as soy, cottonseed oil,
corn and food additives such as bulking agents, preservatives and emulsifiers.

"The system is woefully inadequate.

If something was going wrong, how would we know? No one is looking at
hospital data bases to pick up any signs.

"We need multi-generational testings, we need to look for allergies and
we need a minimum six-month period of animal testing on these products
before they reach the supermarket shelves."

Anti-GM organisation GeneEthics has also called for stricter labelling
and scientific assessment of GM products.

But a food standards spokeswoman said all GM products were subjected to
strict safety assessments and no ill effects had been recorded from any
of the 27 GM products approved for use in Australia.

These include products that remove the fermentation odour from beer, an
enzyme to clarify fruit juices and an emulsifier used in margarine and
chocolate.

Meanwhile, British authorities have launched an urgent inquiry into a
clinical drug trial last week that resulted in six healthy male
volunteers suffering massive organ failure after they were injected with
a genetically engineered drug known as TGN1412.

The drug, previously tested on rabbits and monkeys, was developed by
German biopharmaceutical company TeGenero to treat immunological diseases
such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

TeGenero issued a statement claiming that in pre-clinical trials (animal
testing) the drug had been "shown to be safe and the reactions which
occurred in these volunteers were completely unexpected".Professor Paul
Rolan, a clinical pharmacologist at the University of Adelaide said what
made this drug different was that it was a protein that had a very
specific target within the body. 

"Such 'magic bullet' drugs can be very specific to humans and may not
cause adverse reactions in animals used in preclinical trials."

--
GENET
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