Letter:Dangers of genetic food- tampering

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article of 20 September discussed BSE and organic farming and also touched on genetically engineered food. The possible dangers of hasty adoption of such food products make the BSE crisis pale by comparison.

A number of scientists are pointing out that there is no way to predict the full effects of genetically modified foods on humans, animals and the environment.

There have already been cases where people have suffered allergies, paralysis, and death from genetically modified food.

Cross-fertilisation of modified crops with unmodified crops, and the increasing use of herbicides (through plants producing their own pesticides, or being bred to be more herbicide-resistant), will result in irreversible changes to the ecosystem.

At the very least two things are required: a much more rigorous testing of the effects of genetically engineered food; and clear labelling of any products containing such food, including the source of any genes coming from other products, so that people experiencing side-effects or with allergies to the source product can easily track down the cause of their problem.

It is quite shocking that there are plans to bring a large crop of soya beans genetically engineered to resist weedkiller into the country in the next few months.

In one form or another these will find their way into about 60 per cent of the food on supermarket shelves, including baby food.