Genetically modified foods: are they safe?

January 17, 2014

The concept of genetic modification in foods is quite a novel one in Australia, leading to a great deal of confusion in customers on how these products should be viewed.

Numerous questions have arisen regarding whether genetically modified foods are safe for consumption, who they are intended to benefit, and how they are carefully evaluated and assessed as safe for the public.

Who regulates these foods?

In Australia, the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) oversees and regulates the release of genetically modified organisms and crops for public purchase.

These foods are also managed underneath the Official Standard 1.5.2, which dictates that any food created using gene technology must adhere to two essential provisions. These provisions are pre-market approval in the name of relevant authorities, and compliance with mandatory requirements in labelling.

How are genetically modified foods assessed?

Food Safety Australia New Zealand, or FSANZ also evaluates the safety surrounding genetically modified food, and regards each case individually. Subsequently, each time new genetic modifications are introduced with the intention of public marketing, FSANZ will perform a complete assessment on the potential impact of that food.

FSANZ determine whether a product is safe for consumption by comparing an existing, or traditional version of the food in question, with the genetically modified counterpart. All differences that exist between the two products are carefully evaluated for their potential health implications in regards to the general public. If the food is discovered to cause undesirable reactions or evaluated as toxic, it will not be approved for release.

These standards don’t just apply to FSANZ – in fact, all leading authorities within the food safety industry use the same set of guidelines for assessing genetically modified foods, to ensure that they are always 100% safe.