WHO wants more safety checks on genetically-modified food

In a recent report, the World Health Organization (WHO), has reiterated its view about the general safety of GMO foods. It also says that though genetically-modified organisms (GMO) can raise crop yields and food quality, which ultimately improves health and levels of nutrition as well as profits, since some of the genes used in GMO crops have not been in the food chain before, and the potential effects on health need to be assessed before they are grown and marketed.

In its 58-page report, the WHO says that those foods currently available on the international market have undergone such tests and risk assessments and there was no evidence they might cause problems to human health.

In Europe the subject is very sensitive and consumers there have reacted against what are sometimes viewed as "Frankenstein" foods. The European Union is presently locked in a trade row with the United States over Brussels' reluctance to authorize imports.

According to the WHO, as many as 800 million people in developing countries are undernourished, despite a 50 percent decline in world food prices over the past two decades.

The global population is also expected to grow by another 2 billion to 8 billion in 2025 and WHO says GMOs could play an important role in helping to meet these future food needs.

WHO also says that by producing nutritionally enhanced properties in staple crops eaten by the poor, the burden of disease might be reduced in many developing countries.

GMO crops would also mean a reduction in the use of often health-threatening pesticides which could also bring other benefits to farmers in poorer countries.

But to date much of this remains speculation as so far most of the effort put into developing GMOs has focused on the crops grown in the richer countries.

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