British Medical Association Call for Ban on Genetically Engineered Crops and Food
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BMA CALLS FOR BAN ON GM CROPS AND FOOD
By Maxine Frith and Eileen Murphy, PA News
The British Medical Association today called for an open- ended ban on the
introduction of genetically-modified crops and food. Sir William Asscher
(correct), chairman of the BMA's Board of Science and Education, said more
research was needed into the health and environmental impacts of so-called
The Board today published an interim statement on genetically-modified
organisms (GMOs) and food, calling for strict regulation and assessment of
crop trials and other tests. It made 19 recommendations, including an
open-ended moratorium on the commercial planting of GM crops, a ban on
releasing GMOs into the environment, and a review of the World Trade
Agreement to ensure that Governments rather than companies determine
whether imports of GM foods and seed are restricted.
In a hardline stance, it condemned the use of "marker" genes in crops and
GM food that may help create drug-resistant bacteria.
Marker genes are indicators which show that other genes have been
successfully transferred to a plant. But some have been shown to produce a
resistance to antiobiotics.
The report said the use of antibiotic resistant genes in GM foods was "a
completely unacceptable risk, however slight, to human health".
Environmental campaigners welcomed the BMA's tough stance, but
bio-technology companies rejected the Board's allegation that there was not
enough evidence to guarantee safety.
Publishing the 16-page statement, Sir William said:
"Once the GM genie is out of the bottle, the impact on the environment is
likely to be irreversible.
"That is why the precautionary principle is so particularly important on
this issue. It is even more serious than the licensing of medicines, which
can, if necessary, be withdrawn.
"That is why the BMA is pressing for an open-ended moratorium until there
is much greater scientific certainty about the risks and potential benefits