British Medical Association calls for stop to GM trials- a lesson for NZ
Scotland's leading national newspaper has reported that the British Medical Association is demanding a stop to GM crop
trials in a move that must be taken seriously by New Zealand authorities.
" New Zealand authorities cannot pretend that BMA concerns do not exist and push on for GM release here," said Jon
Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
" The government's biotechnology strategy must reflect this medical advice or it will be rejected by the wider
community," he warned.
The Scotsman reported on 19 November that senior doctors have demanded an immediate halt to genetically modified crop
trials being undertaken in Scotland.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that insufficient care is being taken to protect public health.The
demand that there should be a moratorium on any further planting of GM crops on a commercial basis is made in a
submission to the Scottish parliament's health committee.
The BMA originally set out its case against the further planting of commercially produced GM crops in 1999, but its
latest attack is made with the benefit of more information. It will be presented to the health committee, which is
conducting an inquiry into GM crops.
The BMA was asked by the health committee if it believed the Executive should prevent GM crop trials from continuing on
the grounds that the policy is against "the precautionary principle to allow them to continue". The BMA responded: "Yes.
As with scientific matters, it can be difficult and time consuming to demonstrate safety to an acceptable standard.
Safety is a relative matter and is generally based on the results of a robust and thorough search for possible harm.
"There has not yet been a robust and thorough search into the potentiallyharmful effects of GM foodstuffs on human
health. On the basis of the precautionary principle, farm-scale trials should not be allowed to continue."
The BMA, which will be represented at the committee hearing by Dr Charles Saunders, a specialist in public health
issues, will point out to the MSPs that, following public health disasters such as BSE and foot and mouth disease,
public confidence in the scientific community's approach to agriculture has been undermined.
It adds: "Scientists, farmers and politicians need to re-establish public trust. Further research is required into the
health and environmental effects of GMOs".
"This may be executed in such a way as not to expose the population to possibly irreversible environmental risk, which
may, in turn, have as yet unquantified public health implications."
The BMA refers in its document to worries about the issue of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance "markers" help
identify GM plants and there is evidence that these genes may be transferred to non-GM plants and "possibly into
pathogenic organisms causing human disease", it warns.