Archived news articles - 2000

The Straits Times Forum Page, 31 May 2000
By Billy Chew, for Permanent Secretary
Ministry of the Environment

Genetically modified food sold here is safe

I REFER to the letter, "Modified food: How safe is 'safe'?'', from Mr Kirvy Teo Wei Sion (ST, May 27).

We would like to inform your readers that a genetically modified (GM) food crop is only approved and allowed onto the world market after very rigorous tests, carried out over many years, have shown that the GM food crop is safe for consumption.

The developed nations, in particular, have advanced laboratories to carry out stringent science-based procedures for testing the GM foods and for conducting risk assessment on them.

Being equally concerned with food safety for their population, they would test the food and satisfy themselves that such genetically modified food crops are indeed safe before they will allow them into their countries.

The Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC), Singapore's watchdog on genetically modified organisms, would evaluate the tests carried out by them and satisfy itself that the GM foods currently available have been scrutinised stringently in accordance with our procedures.

There is, therefore, a two-step evaluation: first, by the exporting countries and second, by our GMAC, before we accept that a GM food is safe.

As for the labelling of genetically modified foods, it is important that our requirements be in line with the rules adopted internationally.

In this regard, we are watching international developments closely.

We would like, however, to assure Mr Teo and your other readers that the food they buy in Singapore is safe.

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