Doctor and Patient

While pressure by multinational corporations purporting that genetically modified crops could help to eradicate hunger and provide fuel alternatives to petroleum lean heavily on government agencies, the debate over the safety of GMOs has been steadily intensifying. A recent petition submitted to the FDA included the most signatures in the agency’s history, and the nearly 1 million signatures gathered in California could land the labeling issue on the November 2012 ballot. Now, the American Medical Association could issue a safety concern about GMOs.

The AMA is an historic institution, promoting scientific advancement, improved health and developing the doctor-patient relationship for more than 160 years. With a highly respected opinion, a position against GMOs by the AMA could have a powerful impact on legislation and labeling laws, at least that’s what the Indiana State Medical Association and the Illinois State Medical Society hope with their recent introductions of resolutions asking the institution to support GMO labeling.

Both medical organizations submitted the resolutions to the AMA, which will accept comments until June 3rd from its members before hearing testimony at its annual meeting on June 17th. Illinois specifically asked the AMA to study the impact of GMO food and take further action based on the study’s results. Indiana’s delegation asked the AMA to study the impact mandatory labeling of GMO food would have on the nation’s health.

Unlike the rest of the developed world, the U.S. has no regulations on genetically modified foods, which are ” different than conventionally bred foods,” states Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist for Consumer Reports, in a March report submitted to the AMA.

Despite the 2011 rulings of Codex Alimentarius, the food safety standards organization of the United Nations, that recommended all genetically engineered foods undergo thorough safety assessments before being approved for distribution in the marketplace, the U.S. guidelines do not require such thorough testing in order for GMOs to be approved. Just last week the Senate voted down a measure that was aiming to conduct more studies on the human and environmental health impact of AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon, the first genetically engineered animal slated for approval for sale in the U.S.

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