Codex Alimentarius sets guidance on GM, irradiated food

by Emily Buckley
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ROME, ITALY — The U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius Commission has adopted a landmark agreement on assessing the risks from genetically modified foods and has given its stamp of approval to irradiated foods.

The guidelines lay out broad general principles intended to make the analysis and management of risks related to GMO-derived foods uniform across Codex’s 169 member countries. The guidelines concern food safety and not environmental risks.

Provisions include pre-market safety evaluations, post-market monitoring and product tracing for recall purposes. The guidelines cover the scientific assessment of: DNA-modified plants, such as maize, soybeans or potatoes, and foods and beverages derived from DNA-modified micro-organisms. The standards also encompass provisions for assessing the product’s allergenicity.

"These guidelines are a very important step towards understanding the risks associated with foods derived from biotechnology," said Alan Randell, secretary of the Codex Commission. "Now, any country, regulatory body or other organization or individual will be able to compare the risk assessments of a given food derived from biotechnology with the assessments done by other countries.

"As long as the science is sound, each country wishing to use or introduce a given food derived from biotechnology will not have to redo the analysis, but can move directly to deciding how to manage the marketing of that food. Consumers can be assured that foods assessed by these methods are fit to eat.

The Commission also adopted a new standard for irradiated foods that accepts higher levels of radiation on food products.