California Medical Association SUPPORTS THE LABELING OF GMOs


CALIFORNIA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION HOUSE OF DELEGATES 2002

Resolution 107-02 (Adopted 2-24-02)

Title: Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

Author: Cindy Russell, M.D.

Introduced by: Cindy Russell, M.D., Robert Gould, M.D.

WHEREAS, Agricultural genetic engineering is a powerful technology that includes the practice of imprecisely inserting novel genetic material into food crops for a variety of reasons; and

WHEREAS, Agricultural genetic engineering is profoundly different than conventional breeding which develops new plant varieties through the process of selection using sexual and asexual reproduction but instead combines isolated genetic material with foreign viral promoter genes and antibiotic resistance marker genes randomly into hosts which are often reproductively incompatible (flounder genes in strawberries to confer resistance to freezing); and

WHEREAS, The science of genetically modifying such foods is still in its early and unpredictable stages of development and has resulted in unintended consequences of genetic contamination in wild plants in addition to a significant amount of non GMO crops, with the potential for other adverse environmental effects; and

WHEREAS, Agricultural genetic engineering can introduce new proteins into food crops not just from known sources of common allergens (e.g., peanuts or shellfish), but from plants of all kinds, animals, bacteria and viruses, whose allergenicity is largely unknown; and

WHEREAS, There remain many uncertainties in the understanding of allergies that have yet to be resolved including the genetic and environmental factors that predispose to food allergy; and

WHEREAS, A systematic assessment of allergenic properties of novel and unknown allergens which may be present is not currently being done as there are no animal models that exist for such testing, and

WHEREAS, there is currently no mandatory pre market or post market safety review of genetically modified food products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine public health or environmental impacts, only a pre market biotechnical notification (PBN) is necessary 120 days prior to market and this may be kept confidential to the public; and

WHEREAS, Consumers International consisting of all major consumers groups in the US and abroad are requesting mandatory labeling for GM foods as a fundamental right to know; and

WHEREAS, considering European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, and China require labeling of GM foods for import and export; and

WHEREAS, Widespread use of antibiotic resistance marker genes (e.g. Novartis Bt corn with Ampicillin resistant marker) could exacerbate the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, and consumer labeling would be an important tool in tracking and evaluating any such problem; and

WHEREAS, Over 60% of processed foods in the United States contain genetically modified food products, none of which are labeled to indicate the presence of these potentially allergenic products and which thus cannot be monitored or evaluated; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the CMA support accurate labeling requirements for foods, including genetically modified foods, by appropriate regulatory agencies.

References

1) Michelle Marvier,. American Scientist. Ecology of Transgenic Crops . Vol 89, No 2 (March-April 2001). Pgs  160-167 www. Americanscientist.org/01articles/Marvier.html

2) D.D. Metcalfe,et al.  Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Assessment of the Allergenic Potential of Foods Derived from Genetically Engineered Crop Plants.

3) Hilbeck,A, Baumgartnew.  Environmental Entomology. Affects of Glyphosate tolerant canola crops on soil microorganisms and bioaccumulation. (1998) Vol 27,480

4) J. Carpenter. Science, 287,803 (2000)- Herbicide use on Roundup ready crops.

5) Science. The Ecological Risks and Benefits of Genetically Engineered Plant. L.L. Wolfenbarger and P.R. Phifer. Dec 15, 2000, Vol 290.  http://www.sciencemag.org

6) Ignacio Chapela. Nature. Nov,2001 – Introduction of corn transgenes in remote Mexico.

7) SF Chronicle. Study finds Genes do Jump  Fields, Jane Kay. Thursday, Nov. 29,2001.

8) Nordlee et al. New Engalnd Journal of Medicine.. Identification of a Brazil-Nut  Allergen in Transgenic Soybeans. March 14, 1996. Vol334 No.11Pg688

9) Melo,VMM. Food Agriculture Immunology.. Allergenicity and Tolerance to Proteins from Brazil -Nut. 1994:6;185-195 [ Showed no allergenic reponse of transgenic soybeans with brazil nut 2S protein unlike human sudies Ref 8 above]

10) SH Sicherer, et al. Arch Internal Medicine. Underrepresentation of the risk and incidence of anaphylaxis to foods. Vol 161, Sep 10, 2001 pg 2046.

11) I. Kimber et al. Toxicology Letters. Food Allergy; What are the Issues? Vol 120(2001):165-170

12) B.B. Moseley. Allergy.. How to Make Foods Safer- genetically modified foods. 2001. 56: supp 67:61-63

13) ) The Globalization of Poverty, Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms. Michel Chossudovsky,  Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

14) J.O’b. Hourihane. Allergy. Prevalence and Severity of Food Allergy-Need for Control. 1998: Vol 53(supp 46): 84-88

15) Mercer, D.K., K.p. Scott, W.A. Bruce-Johnson, L.A. Glover and H.J. Flint, 1999, “Fate of Free DNA and Transformation of the Oral Bacterium Streptococcus Gordonii DL1 by Plasmid DNA in Human Saliva,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 65:6-10

16) ). Bergelson, J., C.B. Purrington and G. Wichmann, 1998, “Promiscuity in Transgenic Plants”,” Nature, 395:25. ( GM plants 4 to 36 times more likely to cross pollinate than those bred

semi-conventionally)

17) Mikkelsen, T.R., et al. 1996. The Risk of Crop Transgene Spread. Nature 380,  31

18) Miller,R.V., 1998. Bacterial Gene Swapping in Nature. Scientific American, Jan,. 67-71

19) Putnam, l. 1998 Debate Grows on Safety of Gene Therapy Vectors. Lancet, 351, 808.

20) Assad, F. F. N., et al. 1990. Cauliflower mosaic virus P35S promoter activity in E. Coli, Molecular and General Genetics 223, 517-520.

21) Forbes,J. M. et al. 1998. Effect of Feed Processing Conditions on DNA Fragmentation, Section 5–Scientific Report,  UK MAFF.

22) Goodman, A. E., et al. 1994. Gene transfer among bacteria under conditions of nutrient depletion in simulated and natural aquatic environments. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 15; 55-60.

24) Goussard,S,. et al. 1996.  Direct gene transfer from  bacteria to mammalian cells by kamikazation.

96th meeting of the American Society of Microbiology,H-84,497.

25) Gu,Z., et al. Possible involvement of cell fusion and viral recombination in generation of human immunodeficiency virus variants that display dual resistance to AZT and 3TC. Journal of General Virology 76;2601-5.

26) Hoffman, T., et al. 1994. Foreign DNA sequences are received by a wild-type strain of Aspergillus niger after co-culture with transgenic higher plants. Current Genetics 27;70-76.

WHEREAS, Antibiotic resistance marker genes, commonly used as a link to identify if a desired gene was successfully inserted into DNA, have been left in certain food crops where they pose a risk of transferring resistance to endogenous bacteria via well studied mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer; and

WHEREAS, Genetically modified foods that have been engineered for animal consumption and have lower safety testing have not been separated from those engineered for human consumption, and;

WHEREAS, There has been demonstrated in peer reviewed scientific literature that there are significant potential adverse environmental effects including toxicity to beneficial or harmless insects (monarch butterflys, bees, beetles, lacewings), which could result in reduction of pollination, biodiversity , soil decomposition and soil fertility, as well as increased pest resistance and genetic pollution

WHEREAS, FDA requires labeling for MSG, food coloring and additives, irradiated foods, ,

WHEREAS, considering European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, and China  require  labeling  of GM foods and labeling is required for import of GM foods as well and in the interest of promoting fair trade for farmers in the U.S. who grow GM crops for export

WHEREAS, There is no requirement  for safety testing or routine testing for allergies Environmental reviews are incomplete, inadequate, and do not apply to all products

WHEREAS, Consumers have a fundamental right to know what they are eating as a matter of taste and preference, religion, and for many health-related reasons

WHEREAS, To protect human health from the effects of unrecognized or uncommon allergens, all genetically engineered food must be labeled: Therefore be it

WHEREAS, The safety testing recommended  does not include all of the procedures needed to assess allergies outlined in the report of the new Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Allergenicity of Foods Derived from Biotechnology, nor are there clear criteria to judge the safety of bioengineered foods

WHEREAS, FDA’s explicitly recognizes that genetic engineering is substantially different from traditional breeding in a number of ways that can affect food safety and so requires greater scrutiny of foods developed via biotechnology.

There remain many uncertainties in the understanding of allergies and among the most important issues that have  yet to be resolved are the following:

• The properties that confer on proteins allergenic potential

• The characteristics that determine the severity and persistence of food allergy

• The genetic and environmental factors that predispose to food allergy

• The importance of pre-or perinatal exposure to the allergen

• The significance of different routes of exposure

• Whether, and to what extent, food allergy is becoming more common

WHEREAS, Consumers International consisting of all major  consumers groups in the US and abroad  are requesting  mandatory  labeling  for GM foods as a precautionary  measure and polls also find that most consumers say they would buy food with such a label

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2 Responses

  1. This is wonderful! Let’s all show it to our doctors and get them talking about it. Have their patients, staff and students sign the petition. Train a receptionist as volunteers to get signatures. Especially reach out to fertility specialists, gynecologists, allergists and oncologists – they deal with the types of human suffering that GMOs can most affect. Also pediatricians and obstetricians. They should promote the Non-GMO shopping guide for the health of their patients.

    But someone needs to fix this statement. It appears it was cut-and-pasted improperly, and doesn’t read right. Is it accurate?

    • Thanks for the comments, L.G.! Those are GREAT ideas and I’ve sent your comments out to the campaign organizers to encourage them that their informational and educational efforts are appreciated!

      As soon as I get the properly-formatted version I will re-post it so it is completely credible and usable for distribution.

      — Leslie Riggins

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