Archived news articles - 2001

The Straits Times Forum Page, 3 February 2001

Bio-Safety Guidelines To Be Released Soon

I wish to thank Ms Yvonne Chew Lai Yeen for the thoughts expressed in her two recent letters, 'In our desire to have it all, we should not lose all' (ST, Jan 19) and 'GM food debate: Room for scepticism' (ST, Jan 27).

She has raised several basic issues relating to genetic-modification technology such as the reason for embarking on genetic-modification research, the risks associated with the work, the need for labelling genetically-modified food and the regulation for such work and products.

Several of the issues raised have been explained aptly by Chang Ai-Lien in her article, 'Vigilance needed on GM foods, but not overkill' (ST, Jan 23).

She has outlined the rationale for embarking on research into genetic-modification technology and the associated risk that the research work may generate.

It is in anticipation of the increasing need to monitor and regulate activities relating to genetic-modification research, to minimise any risk, that the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC) was formed in 1999.

The role of the GMAC is to formulate specific guidelines which regulators in Singapore can adopt to regulate activities and products associated with genetic-modification technology.

Since its formation, it has drawn up guidelines that regulate the release of any genetically-modified organism in Singapore and such guidelines have been adopted by the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority for its regulatory process.

GMAC is also finalising a set of bio-safety guidelines for research institutes and laboratories involved in genetic-modification activities, for implementation, so that the risk of any genetically-modified organism escaping from the laboratories will be minimised.

This set of bio-safety guidelines will be released soon.

As for the question of labelling of genetically-modified food and products, the Ministry of the Environment is looking into this, in conjunction with Codex Alimentarius, the world authority on food safety formed by the World Health Organisation and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Ms Chew is welcome to visit our GMAC website at for more information relating to the regulatory guidelines.

Issued by GMAC

For more information, please contact :

GMAC Secretariat