The Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association is opposed to the growing of genetically engineered plants and the use of substances derived from genetically engineered plants in food. IDEA calls for a complete moratorium on the growing and use of such foods. All such foods currently on the market should be withdrawn as they have been insufficiently tested.
1. Genetically engineered food has not been tested adequately for possible adverse health effects
Present ‘risk assessments’ are inadequate. We believe that the introduction of genetic engineering techniques to food should be every bit as thoroughly researched as it’s introduction into medicine. Genetically engineered food products are not tested if they are deemed to be ‘substantially equivalent’; a condition that has no clear definition, but, if declared, renders the product free from any pre-market safety testing.
There have been no tests for possible adverse health effects from genetically engineered foods on humans and testing on animals has given rise to concern. Among other concerns, allergies may develop, and bacteria and viruses could become more virulent.
It is a cause of great concern to our organisation that no attempt is being made to monitor any possible impact on public health.
2. Increased chemical use
The growing of plants that are engineered to withstand herbicides may well lead to increased spraying with these chemicals as the plant will not be damaged by these sprays. Our testing for the presence of these chemicals in our food is already inadequate.
3. Genetically engineered foods are not the answer to hunger
Genetically engineered foods are not the answer to hunger in the world. People are ill and dying from hunger in our world because of unjust economic policies and unfair trading, not because of a lack of genetically engineered food. Genetically modified crops will undermine food security and biodiversity.
It is also of concern that genetic engineering of foodstuffs is a dangerous diversion from the real task of providing food and health around the world.
The Irish Doctor’s Environmental Association is a signatory to the World Scientist’s Statement launched during the U.N. Convention of Biological Diversity Conference. In so doing, we join with our colleagues in calling on governments to impose an immediate moratorium on further environmental releases of genetically engineered foods for at least five years and also request a comprehensive, independent public enquiry into the future of agriculture and food security for all, taking account of the full range of scientific findings, as well as socio-economic and ethical implications.