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Codex Alimentarius sets guidance on GM, irradiated food

The Codex Alimentarius Commission of the United Nations has adopted an agreement on assessing the risks from genetically modified foods and has given its approval to irradiated foods.

July 16, 2003

The Codex Alimentarius Commission of the United Nations has adopted an agreement on assessing the risks from genetically modified foods and has given its 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. 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, including cheese, yogurt and beer.

The standards also encompass provisions for assessing the product's allergenicity, determining if the product may provoke unexpected allergies in consumers.

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

The Commission determined that allowing higher levels of irradiation would eliminate bacterial spores and the radiation resistant pathogenic bacteria Clostridium botulinum. The process also reduces the need to use more toxic chemical methods of combating bacteria, some of which can be harmful to the environment.

 A Code of Practice on good animal feeding calls for stricter and more systematic controls over sources of contamination.

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