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OECD calls for global risk analysis rules on GM foods.

GENEVA, June 19 Kyodo

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is calling for developed countries to reach a consensus on common risk assessment rules for genetically modified (GM) foods and feeds, according to an OECD report obtained by Kyodo News on Monday.

"There are differences in risk analysis among OECD countries" and some countries "have raised concerns about the adequacy of existing test methods," the 29-member OECD said.

The OECD said an international agreement should be reached on test methods on safety of GM products and that continued dialogue should be held for mutual understanding on risk assessment.

The Paris-based OECD also said, "Much remains to be done to facilitate the transfer of risk/safety assessment experience" from developed countries, particularly the Group of Eight (G-8) countries, to developing economies.

The OECD report was compiled for the July 21-23 summit of G-8 nations in Okinawa Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori wants the G-8 to declare a view on the safety of GM foods and feeds, but whether the G-8 countries will be able to do so will depend on a compromise between the United States -- an advocate of GM food promotion -- and the more cautious European Union (EU).

"The techniques of genetic modification are having a major impact on the development of new varieties of crops, vegetables and fruits, starting with major trading commodities such as maize, rice and soybean -- whether for human consumption or as livestock feed," raising the requirement of ensuring consumer safety, the OECD said.

"A major issue for the future is the development of strategies for managing the safety assessment of the 'next generation' of GM products," it said, adding that next-generation GM products are expected to be marketed during the next decade.

"It is ensure that mechanisms are in place to keep the public informed about the safety assessment procedures that exist for novel foods," the report said.

It also said, "It will become increasingly important to reach a consensus on safety assessment approaches internationally" as more countries develop pre-market approval systems for GM foods.

As for post-market surveillance, the OECD only noted that the possibility of carrying out post-market surveillance should be considered, apparently given the EU position that GM foods which could require post-market surveillance should not be marketed.

At last year's summit in Cologne, Germany, G-8 leaders requested the OECD to carry out a study on safety of GM foods and risk of biotechnology in time for the Okinawa summit.

The G-8 countries are Canada, Japan, Russia and the U.S., plus four EU member countries -- Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
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Publication:Japan Science Scan
Date:Jun 26, 2000
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