Food Standards Agency
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FSA serves up food for thought on GM

The Food Standards Agency has served up some food for thought by publishing information about GM foods, along with the views of a wide cross-section of interested parties, in the pages of its quarterly magazine Bite.

The publication follows the Government’s announcement of five key principles for considering GM in the UK. The principles emphasise the importance of listening to different views on the use of the technology.

Bite was established by the FSA to discuss challenging food-related issues.

The latest issue of the magazine, entitled: ‘GM – novel cuisine or unpalatable prospect?’, looks at food security and sustainability and asks whether GM may or may not have a valid role to play.

Bite has drawn together the views of leading scientists, researchers, consumer champions, farmers, food manufacturers, Government ministers, including from the Scottish and Welsh Governments, and NGOs.

The GM-themed issue includes:

  • A roundtable debate, on ‘Where do we go from here?’, involving representatives from the Food and Drink Federation, the National Farmers’ Union, Which? and the scientific community
  • Patrick Holden, Director of the Sustainable Food Trust, and Professor Giles Oldroyd of the John Innes Centre, debating the topic: ‘Does the world really need GM?’
  • Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Government’s lead Minister on GM, explains the Government’s position
  • Sir John Beddington, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, on why GM should not be overlooked in the battle for food security
  • The Scottish and Welsh Governments on their opposition to the planting of GM crops in their countries
  • The Department for International Development on why GM could be a valuable addition to the tool box
  • Mark Buckingham, a scientist and spokesman for the biotech industry on why GM could provide part of the answer to world hunger
  • Mariam Mayet, from South African NGO the African Centre for Biosafety, on why GM is not the panacea that the West suggests

The magazine also includes an overview that provides some historical context to the development of GM, an article on how GM food is regulated, an outline of the work of the European Food Safety Authority panel on GM, a map showing the extent of GM cultivation worldwide and a summary of what the FSA has learned by discussing the issue with the public.

The Food Standards Agency doesn’t claim to have the answers when it comes to the introduction of GM food or technology, but it hopes that the latest issue of Bite will encourage interested parties to question whether their approach addresses the real concerns that some consumers have on GM.

The latest issue of Bite can be found at the link below.

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