Panel Report Recommends Monitoring of GM Foods

A new report from a 13-member panel of the influential National Academy of Sciences is serving as a bit of a Rorschach test in the debate over genetically modified foods. GM opponents found succor in the panel’s warning that modifying the genetic structure of foods could “create unintended changes in the quality or amounts of food components that could harm health,” as panel leader Bettie Sue Masters put it. The panel also noted that current systems for analyzing and monitoring GM products are inadequate, and recommended increased pre-market testing and post-market tracking. However, GM backers point out that the panel vouchsafed all current GM products on the market. Also, the panel found that most crop modifications have been beneficial, that direct genetic modification is not “inherently hazardous,” and that all products of genetic tinkering — including traditional methods of interbreeding — should be given increased scrutiny.