Many Genetically
Altered Crops Not Tested
For Health Safety

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 crops."
She said she avoids GM foods and believes they should be labelled.
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.


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