UN Organization Urges Biotech Monitoring

Life-cycle analysis of entire process from field testing to biosafety considerations should be monitored says Food and Agriculture Organization.

A group of experts brought together by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommends that any "responsible deployment of genetically modified (GM) crops needs to comprise the whole technology development process." The group urged that the process should be monitored from pre-release risk assessment to biosafety considerations and post-release monitoring.

Environmental goals must also "encompass the maintenance and protection of basic natural resources such a soil, water and biodiversity," says FAO in a statement released yesterday. The organization also called on involving environmental organizations, farmer groups and community organizations to be actively and continuously engaged in the process. FAO says it is "ready to facilitate this process along with other agencies and national and international research centers."

"FAO's aim is to provide a tool to assist countries in making their own informed choices on the matter, as well as protect the productivity and ecological integrity of farming systems" says Ms Louise O. Fresco, FAO Assistant Director-General of the Agriculture Department. She made the comments in a statement released by FAO.

Fresco adds, that "the need to monitor both the benefits and potential hazards of released GM crops to the environment is becoming ever more important with the dramatic increase in the range and scale of their commercial cultivation, especially in developing countries."

The experts acknowledged that a great deal of data is already available. What needs to be done is to bring together and coordinate this volume of often scattered information. They also emphasized that monitoring the effects of GM crops on the environment is not only necessary but feasible even with limited resources when it is integrated with the deployment of these crops.

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