UN commission on GE foods to create global guidelines

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a UN body charged with developing global food quality standards, has created a new group to issue recommendations regarding genetically-engineered food. A preliminary report will be produced by 2001.

Formation of the Ad Hoc Task Force on Food Derived from Biotechnology was proposed by Codex’s Japanese representatives and the group will meet in Tokyo between 14 and 17 March 2000. There was some disagreement regarding the group’s overall objectives, with some Codex delegations seeking a narrow set of aims concerned solely with GE foods’ safety and nutrition while other delegations preferred a broader set of goals.

It was decided that the group’s objectives would be “to develop standards, guidelines or recommendations” and “to take full account of existing work carried out by national authorities, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation and other international organisations…” A possible review or narrowing of the group’s terms of reference may take place at the March 2000 meeting.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is a joint body of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation. Membership comprises more than 160 countries.

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