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Safety Concerns Continue For Genetically Modified Foods

Chicago-based American Medical Association (AMA, www.ama-assn.org) rekindled more concern about labeling—and, thus, consumption—of genetically engineered (GE) foods made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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On June 19, at its 2012 Annual Convention in Chicago, AMA’s House of Delegates revised its policy on labeling of GMO foods. In what the Los Angeles Times (LAT) reports, on June 21, as an AMA 500-or-so-word statement, the medical association said, 

“There is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods, as a class, and that voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education.” Note: When the newspaper published its story and Automation World began its publication process on this article, the AMA had not yet published that statement on its Web site.

Further, according to the newspaper, AMA’s Dr. Patrice Harris said through an e-mail statement, “Recognizing the public’s interest in the safety of bioengineered foods, the new policy also supports mandatory FDA pre-market systemic safety assessments of these foods as a preventive measure to ensure the health of the public.”

In a June 19 press release, however, Yonkers, N.Y.-headquartered Consumers Union (CU, www.consumersunion.com) questioned the AMA’s action. “We wholeheartedly commend AMA for coming out in support of mandatory premarket safety assessment of GE foods, but are disappointed that AMA did not also support mandatory labeling,” said CU senior scientist Dr. Michael Hansen.

“The AMA’s stance on mandatory labeling isn’t consistent with its support for mandatory pre-market safety assessments,” Hansen explained. “If unexpected adverse health effects happen as a result of GE, then labeling could perhaps be the only way to determine that the GE process was linked to the adverse health effect.” 

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