Questions and Answers on GM food safety

Genetically Modified Crops
Questions Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in the light of their statements about the safety of genetically modified crops, what assessment they have made of the paper by Velmirov A, Binter C and Zentek J (2008) entitled biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice, which found that genetically modified maize damages reproductive function; and what action they will take in the light of its findings?

ANSWER
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): This report was published, prior to peer review, by the Austrian Ministries for Health and Agriculture on 12 November 2008 and was examined by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes when it met on 20 November. The committee advised that the publication is not sufficiently detailed to draw any conclusions about the implications of this research for the safety of food or feed derived from NK603xMON810 maize and it identified a number of technical questions related to the research. The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Genetically Modified Organism Panel scrutinised this report when it met on 3 and 4 December and has published a statement, which also advises that no conclusions can be drawn from this report. The EFSA panel has highlighted inconsistencies and uncertainties in the reporting of the part of the research that is claimed to show an effect on reproductive function.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in the light of their statements about the safety of genetically modified crops, what assessment they have made of the paper by Finamore A, Roselli M, Britti S, Monastra G, Ambra R, Turrini A and Mengheri E (2008) entitled Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice (published in J Agric Food Chem on 16 November 2008), which examined disturbances in the immune system of young and old mice; and what measures they propose in the light of its findings. [HL148]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in the light of their statements about the safety of genetically modified crops, what assessment they have made of the paper by A Kilic and M T Akay (2008) entitled A three generation study with genetically modified corn in rats: Biochemical and histopathological investigation (published in Food Chem. Toxicol. 17 Dec 2008: Column WA43 46(3): 1164—70), which showed that rats fed with MON810 suffered kidney and liver damage; and what measures they propose in the light of its findings. [HL149]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in the light of their statements about the safety of genetically modified crops, what assessment they have made of the paper by Manuela Malatesta, Fredrica Boraldi, Guilia Annovi, Beatrice Baldelli, Serafina Battistelli, Marco Biggiogera, and Daniela Quaglino (2008) entitled A long term study on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean: effects on liver ageing (published in Histochem Cell Biol. on 22 July 2008: 18648843), which examined the effect of genetically modified soy on metabolic rates and the speed of the ageing process; and what measures they propose in the light of its findings. [HL150]

ANSWER
Lord Darzi of Denham: Officials in the Food Standards Agency are aware of the research reported in these publications and will be seeking advice from the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes on the implications.

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