Genetic Modification (GM) and Biotechnology
FDF believes that modern technologies, including genetic modification (GM),
offer considerable potential to improve the quality and quantity of the food
and could contribute to sustainability by helping to produce more food using
fewer resources and with less impact on the environment. FDF recognises that
impact of this technology must be objectively assessed through scientific
investigation and that robust controls are necessary to protect the consumer
environment. Consumer understanding through education and information are
fundamental to public acceptance of GM in food production.
FDF recognises that some consumers may wish, for whatever reason, to choose
products which do not contain GM-derived ingredients, and UK food and drink
manufacturers will continue to provide choice.
We also believe that serious consideration should be given to reopening a free
and unbiased debate about the environmental, safety and consumer aspects of GM
food and agricultural production.
FDF recognised in the early 1990s that developments in agricultural
biotechnology and food science were likely to impact on food production. A close
collaboration developed with academic and research organisations and other sectors in the
food chain (including farming, retail, regulators and consumer representatives)
to research all aspects of GM, from modification for agricultural benefit through
to pharmaceutical applications, environmental and ethical issues, legal and
intellectual property issues, and consumer attitudes and perceptions. One outcome of
this intensive dialogue was our foodfuture programme, launched in 1995.
At the same time the regulatory framework was evolving. In 1997 the use of GM
in food was harmonised in European law under EC Regulation 258/97 on novel foods
and novel food ingredients. Two later regulations subsequently replaced the GM
part of the Novel Foods Regulation: EC Regulation 1829/2003 on GM food and feed;
and EC Regulation 1830/2003 on traceability and labelling of GMOs and
traceability of food.
These Regulations did not have the effect anticipated by the Regulators and
consequently have created difficulties in application. The speed of approvals of
GMOs in the EU continues to lag behind that in other parts of the world, especially
North and South America, resulting in supply chain problems if GM material not
yet authorised in the EU is detected in commodity consignments, even in very
small amounts. The European Commission is currently addressing this issue.
Last reviewed: 17 Sep 2012