GENET archive


REGULATION: Prime Minister of Malaysia: Give bio-safety attention

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  PM: Give bio-safety attention
SOURCE: The New Straits Times, Malaysia
AUTHOR: Annie Freeda Cruez
DATE:   22.05.2007

PM: Give bio-safety attention

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday
expressed his concern over the level of preparedness in Asia in terms of
bio-safety and bio-security in connection with biotechnology development.

Countries must always be vigilant, he said. "If we fail, then we may
find that there will be a heavy price to pay."

He said this in his address to delegates at the opening of the two-day
Bio-safety and Bio-security Asia 2007 Conference at Putra World Trade
Centre, which was read out by Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd
Radzi Sheikh Ahmad.

"I hope that this is something that will be given due consideration
during the course of this conference."

He said bio-safety and bio-security issues would be more urgent and
important as the full implications of "our recent achievements in the
life sciences become clearer to us".

Abdullah said the government had drafted a Bio-safety Bill, which would
create a robust legal framework for managing bio-safety issues.

He said bio-safety encompassed safe practices in the handling of
biological agents, managing the risk of food chain contamination and the
promotion of safety standards in research work.

"By its nature, work in bio-safety is precautionary and preventive."

Bio-security, Abdullah said, involved active efforts to protect
populations and food sources from large-scale epidemics, whether
occurring naturally or from the use of biological weapons.

Bio-security measures included monitoring patterns that suggested
emerging epidemics, ensuring sufficient stockpiles of appropriate
vaccines in case of outbreaks as well as expanding public health
education and spreading alertness.

On the Bio-safety Bill, Radzi said it would be tabled in Parliament in
June for its second reading and to be debated.

He said the bill was to govern and complement modern biotechnology to
ensure technology growth without compromising human and environmental safety.

According to K. Nagulendran, a senior official with the Natural
Resources and Environment Ministry, the bill proposes that any food
product, whether animal feed, crop or animal, that contained genetically
modified (GM) organisms must be approved by a new government panel as
part of efforts to boost food security.

Malaysia, he said, had rich biodiversity resources and was concerned
that unapproved variations might enter its food chain, with implications
for human health and the environment.

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                                 PART II
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TITLE:  Malaysia: New law for modified foods
AUTHOR: The Associated Press
DATE:   21.05.2007

Malaysia: New law for modified foods

Malaysia will introduce a new law to regulate genetically modified foods
but the move is not aimed at stemming imports of biotech products,
officials said Monday.

A proposed biosafety bill has been tabled in Parliament and will be
debated next month, Home Affairs Minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad told
reporters after opening a regional biosecurity conference.

Under the proposed bill, any food products including animal feed, crops
or animals that contain genetically modified organisms must be approved
by a new government panel as part of efforts to boost food security,
officials said.

Importers will also be required to label genetically modified contents
in food products to allow consumers to make informed decisions, said K.
Nagulendran, a senior official with the Natural Resources and
Environment Ministry.

"Malaysia has rich biodiversity resources. We are concerned about any
unapproved variations entering into our food chain that have
implications on human health and the environment," he said.

"We regulate to ensure its safety. We are not taking the position to ban
GM food, that's not in our interest."

Nagulendran said Malaysia will join Japan, the European Union and more
than 50 other countries that already have laws or mechanisms regulating
genetically modified food.

Malaysia imports maize from the United States for animal feed, as well
as soya products from other countries, but there are currently no laws
requiring labeling of genetically modified organisms, he told The
Associated Press.

He said the proposed law could also be a boost to Malaysia if it
produces and exports its own genetically modified products in the
future. Government researchers are already working on developing
genetically modified papaya, orchid flowers and other products that are
resistant to diseases, he said.

"We are not saying no to technology as long as it is done safely,
ethically and judicially," Nagulendran said.

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