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French Say More Safety Testing Needed on GE Foods & Crops

French Say More Safety Testing
Needed on GE Foods & Crops

More tests needed on gene crops-French food agency

PARIS, Jan 30 (Reuters) - More tests are needed to determine the possible
health side-effects of genetically modified organisms, France's food safety
agency said on Wednesday in a report to the government on the risks of such
products.

If adopted by the French government, the agency's conclusion could further
delay efforts aimed at resuming European Union approvals of new genetically
modified organisms (GMOs).

The approval process has been on hold since 1998 when six EU governments,
led by France, said they would not allow any new GMOs into the 15-nation
bloc until tougher rules on testing, labelling and tracing were adopted.

In its opinion, the AFSSA agency said current rules on GMOs did not offer
complete health guarantees for consumers and the agency raised questions
about the possible side-effects of long-term exposure to such products.

"It is essential that precautions be taken to limit as much as possible any
risks of allergies to transgenic products," AFSSA said in a statement.

The agency noted that while GMOs were tested to see if they caused immediate
allergic reactions, it was necessary to test laboratory animals to determine
whether there were any long-term effects from eating gene-spliced crops.

"Only such tests will show potential effects of prolonged exposure on vital
systems -- notably the immune, hormonal and reproductive systems," the
agency said.

AFSSA also said it would back tests on humans of any GMOs designed to
improve health, but that such tests regarding gene-spliced crops designed
simply to boost farm yields would pose "ethical problems."

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy acknowledged last week in Washington that
the EU's moratorium on approvals was a source of frustration for the United
States and other EU trading partners.

Companies like Monsanto Co and Novartis AG have been waiting for years to
know whether their new strains of modified maize, soy and cotton can be sold
in the EU.

EU governments are acutely aware of strong public concerns in their
countries over new varieties of gene-spliced crops.

01/30/02 05:33:00


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