ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

13 February 2002


remember all those claims out of north america of how nobody has ever got sick from eating GM foods?
Monitoring effects of GM foods difficult: doctors
CBC.CA - Canadian Broadcasting Company - Science News, 12 Feb 2002

OTTAWA - Health Canada will be monitoring Canadians to see if they get sick from eating GM foods, but the research will be difficult because no one knows who's eating what.

Health Canada's Centre for Surveillance Coordination started monitoring the health effects of bioengineered products, including GM food, pesticides and vaccines, in 2000.

But because there are no labels on genetically modified food, it's difficult to tell whether a person has been eating GM products or not.

"A basic prerequisite for any kind of analysis of the effects of GM foods on the population over time is that we know if people are consuming the items or not," said epidemiologist Bryan Embree of the Ontario Public Health Association.

"And at this point, we simply don't have this information," said Embree.

It's estimated that 70 per cent of processed food contains some genetically modified ingredients.

None of the food is labelled and the genetically modified crops are usually mixed in with other crops.

The National Farmers Union has lobbied for mandatory labelling on GM food and says their proposal would help in studying their effects on human health.

Long-term monitoring of the health effects of GM foods is important because allergies to the new modified proteins could take years to show up, said Ottawa allergist Ham Pong.

"The tests can suggest that it's safe but the real test is people eating it and seeing what happens," said Pong.

Environment Canada will also be monitoring the long-term environmental effects of genetically modified organisms.

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