Archived news articles - 2000

The Straits Times Forum Page, 27 May 2000
By Kirvy Teo Wei Sion

Modified food: how safe is 'safe'?

I REFER to Mr Billy Chew's reply on the labelling of genetically-modified (GM) food, "S'pore will follow global guidelines on GM labelling" (ST, May 25).

He wrote: "All GM food products, besides being accepted by many developed countries, must be proven to be safe by the competent national regulatory bodies of the exporting countries before their import is allowed."

I am wondering how reliable "safe" is.

So what if the exporting country says it is safe? Should we, as the importing country, take its cue?

How did its regulatory body determine the product to be safe?

The public should be notified that GM food may have effects that may not be evident in the short term. Some of the foods have been genetically modified to withstand potent herbicides that kill practically everything except the plant.

How about plants that have been modified with animal genes to withstand certain pests?

How safe are these crops if we consume them?

Besides that, these genetically-modified plants may possibly be an environmental danger.

This information can be found easily on the Internet.

What I am saying is that when regulatory bodies, the farmers' union or whatsoever, of the "exporting country" say a product is safe, should we accept their word for it?

Shouldn't we have our own guidelines as an importing country?

Guidelines not influenced by associations or unions, that are for the interest of our people and are based on ethical and moral principles?

All of us as consumers should have the right to choose our food.

No regulatory bodies can be totally responsible for the good of the people, not even the World Health Organisation.

We should be responsible for our own good.

We will not want a situation where these bodies regret their decision to approve the food twenty years after we consume them.

We should be responsible for our own well-being, and be allowed to decide for ourselves whether or not to accept genetically-modified food.

I support the move to label GM food.

Issued by GMAC

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