- OTTAWA (CP) -- Many genetically
modified crops approved in Canada have never been tested for harmful health
effects, says a newly formed group of scientists and academics.
- The federal Health Department relies mainly on reasoning
rather than controlled experiments to determine whether newly created crops
are safe, AgBiotech Alert Canada said in a report Tuesday.
- The group does not claim genetically modified (GM) crops
are harmful, but says current assessment can't be trusted to ensure they
are safe. "The risk assessment system ... in Canada is based largely
on assumptions and inference rather than on any sort of actual testing,"
spokeswoman E. Ann Clark said at a news conference.
- Clark wrote the report after analyzing 27 Health Department
decisions to approve GM crops.
- She said no laboratory or animal-feeding test is presented
in 17 of the 27 decisions. Test results are given for 10 crops, but none
of these attempted to measure the results of long-term exposure.
- Health Department spokeswoman Lynn LeSage defended the
current process for assessing GM crops, saying it is clear and rigorous.
"We consider toxicity and allergenicity with every single item that
goes our pre-market review. If there is the potential (for adverse health
effects) it is tested. If there is no potential, it's not tested."
- AgBiotech Alert questions the department's ability to
decide, without actual tests, that some crops have no potential for harm.
- Clark said many scientists are concerned that GM foods
could have subtle effects which don't become quickly apparent. "There
are no long-term or chronic exposure studies of any kind on any of these
- She said she avoids GM foods and believes they should
- The report comes on the eve of a major UN conference
in Montreal where governments will seek a bio-safety agreement to reduce
potential risks from living modified organisms.
- The Health Department posts information about decisions
on GM foods, which it refers to as novel foods, on its website. Although
43 GM crops have been approved, Clark said 27 decisions were posted when
she did her study. Now all but two decisions have been posted.