NABC Report 14: Foods For Health: Integrating Agriculture, Medicine and Food for Future Health
Published 2002 by NABC.
The promise of biotechnology, especially as it relates to food, is about shared responsibility and trust. Merging healthful eating with medicines in our foods is part of the promise of biotechnology and food-based products that may have medicinal capacity. Biotechnology and agriculture also offer new ways to make vaccines, more cheaply, more effectively, and with greater capacity, actually growing medicines, or “pharming.” Agriculture and health have always been linked, and a new relationship is evolving requiring interdisciplinary approaches and new thinking. There is also the need to share responsibility for safety and for the accountability of the progresses. Promises regarding agricultural biotechnology must be realistic and objective and must be evaluated with an eye to political and moral and must be kept throughout the whole chain from producers to consumers.
How do we assure that the public understands what the risks and benefits? We cannot assure them until we ourselves understand the risks to human health, especially that of our children, and to the environment. Until we do, we must at least provide objective and creditable information. We have to educate people keeping in mind cultural aspect to food. Rituals and traditions are not to be trifled with when we talk about genetically modifying food.
If the consumers of genetically modified foods don’t trust it, they won’t buy it no matter what health claims are made and even delivered. Trust in the regulatory agencies is generally strong where medicines are concerned, but not so much for genetically modified foods. Only transparency can help, even if it means to address problems such as the Starlink™ corn. Producers must be sure that they can sell their products and they must be trusted by the public that the food they produce is safe.
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