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CAMPAIGN TO BAN
GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD

GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD
- A SERIOUS HEALTH RISK


  What is Genetic engineering?
What is needed?
What is the position now?
Genetic Engineering - the dangers
Global threat to food supply
What you can do
Books & Literature
Other related sites

We must act before it is too late!

THE NATURAL LAW PARTY is extremely concerned about the development and marketing of genetically modified organisms whether they are used in agriculture, food, or food processing. The Party has been campaigning for the past 18 months for a complete ban on these products in the interests of food safety and the environment.

Genetically engineered foods containing genes derived from animals, fish, insects and bacteria are now starting to appear in the shops. The genetic changes now being made in the nation's food are completely different to those resulting from traditional methods of breeding. Yet, the sale of these foods is being permitted without proper assessment of the risks and without adequately informing the public, even though many scientists say that genetically modified foods could cause serious damage to health and the environment.

What is genetic engineering?

Genes are the blueprints for every part of an organism. Genetic engineering is the process of modifying this information, particularly by artificially transferring the genes specific to one type of organism into another.

Why do it?

Scientists want to transfer desirable qualities from one organism to another, for example, to make a crop resistant to a herbicide or to enhance food value.

Is it necessary?

At first sight it may seem appealing. However, closer examination of the issues gives a different picture. After BSE and other food scares, we should by now all be alert to the dangers of interfering with Nature. We already have the ability to feed the world's population economically without the risks posed by genetic engineering. Commercial and political motives are taking precedence with little regard to the possible dangers.

What are the dangers?

Those identified so far include:
  • Unexpected production of new toxins and allergens in foods

  • Increased use of chemicals on crops, resulting in increased contamination of our water supply and food
  • The creation of herbicide-resistant weeds

  • The spread of diseases across species barriers

  • Loss of bio-diversity in crops

  • Increased sickness and suffering for genetically engineered animals

  • The disturbance of ecological balance


The artificially induced characteristics and inevitable imperfections will be passed on to all subsequent generations and to other related and unrelated organisms. They can never be recalled or contained. The consequences of this are incalculable. Scientific facts demonstrating the need for an immediate worldwide ban

What is the position now?

Genetically modified foods available, or about to appear, in UK shops include tomatoes, yeast, maize, and soya (which is used in many processed foods, such as bread, pasta, confectionery, ice cream, pies, biscuits, margarine, meat products and vegetarian meat substitutes). Products derived from genetically modified organisms are also used to produce cheeses and rape-seed oil. But this is just the beginning. In a few years it may be almost impossible to find natural food.

The risk assessment used by government regulators in approving genetically engineered foods is completely inadequate. The basic principle they have adopted is that of "substantial equivalence". This means that if a modified food is deemed to have substantially the same nutritional value as its natural, unmodified counterpart then only very limited testing is required. Unfortunately, this principle requires that only known potential hazards are checked. The criteria laid down fail to acknowledge the unpredictability inherent in the methods used in genetic modification. Therefore, current health testing prior to marketing will not detect any unexpected effects which may appear either immediately or at any time in the future. Unexpected toxins and allergens will be discovered only when a major health problem arises (such situations have already occurred - see following page). This is why it is vital that there is at least full-disclosure labelling, without which it will never be possible even to trace the source of a problem. However, it is clear that with the risks involved, even full-disclosure labelling does not go far enough.

The long-term effects on health and the environment are currently almost completely ignored by government regulations.

Under current regulations, most genetically modified foods will not be labelled. Foods that meet the criteria for being “substantially equivalent” by the legislative criteria need not be labelled. in particular, this includes processed foods. This means that at least 80% of genetically modified foods will not be labelled and it has been left to manufacturers and retailers to decide whether to label or not. By having such inadequate regulation, the government is ignoring the wishes of the public – a survey by the Consumers Association found that 93% of consumers want clear labelling of all such foods.

Global threat to humanity's food supply

The introduction of genetically engineered foods amounts to a dangerous global experiment by giant transnational biotechnology companies who control large segments of the world's food supply, including food patents, seed companies and other aspects of the food chain. Short term commercial gain is being placed before the health and safety of the whole population. This could result in many unanticipated, irreversible problems leading to food shortages and large-scale health threats.

There is no logical scientific justification to change suddenly almost all our foods through irreversible genetic engineering. The genetic structure of plants has been nourishing mankind for millennia. Tampering with the genetic code of food is reckless and poses a serious threat to life. It could easily upset the delicate balance between our physiology and the foods that we eat. There is already ample scientific justification for an immediate ban on the release of all genetically modified organisms in order to safeguard our health.

What is needed?

It is quite clear even from existing research that a ban on genetically engineered foods and a moratorium on the release of all genetically modified organisms is essential to protect health.

In the meantime, labelling should be required for all foods which contain any genetically modified ingredient, even if it is only one, or where genetically modified organisms have been used in the production of the food.

Full-disclosure labelling will allow consumers to choose what they eat. It will also help scientists trace the source of health problems that may arise from these foods.

WHAT YOU CAN DO!

  • Write to your MP and MEP, supermarkets, the press and consumer groups. Express your concern and enclose a copy of these three pages.

  • Photocopy these three pages and distribute to your friends, family, colleagues, students, trades unions, clubs and societies. Alert everyone to the dangers.

Suggested further reading:

The Natural Law Party has a 60-country wide campaign against genetic engineering.

Click here to support this campaign, and to order information, leaflets etc.

Natural Law Party Manifesto & Genetic Engineering Information Sheet Available from address at bottom of page

Books:
  • John Fagan PhD, 'Genetic Engineering, The Hazards; Vedic Engineering, the Solutionst' to order, telephone 01695 - 51015
  • Mae Wan Ho, 'The Unholy Alliance', 'The Ecologist', Vol. 27, No.4, July / August 1997
Useful internet and e-mail addresses
Internet:

NLP Wessex (up to date information about genetic engineering)
NLP Wessex (list of warning quotations from scientists)
NLP Wessex (GMO campaign in USA)
NLP Wessex (GM agriculture)
www.shef.ac.uk/uni/projects/doe/pre93.htm (listing of genetically modified organisms released in the UK)
www.shef.ac.uk/uni/projects/doe/pubreg.htm (gives the names and addresses where public registers of genetically modified organisms released in the UK may be found)


E-mail:
The following e-mail addresses are good sources for up-to-date information:
Dr Richard Wolfson, Canada: rwolfson@concentric.net
Dr Mae Wan Ho, Open University, UK: M.W.Ho@open.ac.uk
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