The World Health Organization attaches high priority to the safe use and application of modern biotechnology to foodproduction and processing. These applications present opportunities and challenges for human health and development.
Despite a number of national and international initiatives, the use and development ofmodern food biotechnology remains a controversial global issue. Modern food biotechnology promises a new range of products and processes proclaimed to be for the public good, some related to agriculturalbenefits others directly or indirectly to health. WHO would like to assess how these products currently impact human health and the development of society at large and how they will do so in thefuture.
The Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Diseases (formerly the Food Safety Department) within WHO finalized in June 2005 an evidence-based study of the implications of modern foodbiotechnology on human health and development. Impetus for the study arose from a resolution of the fifty-third World Health Assembly in May 2000 that the WHO should strengthen its capacity to supportMember States establish the scientific basis for decisions on modern food biotechnology, and to ensure the transparency, excellence and independence of opinions delivered. In addition, from theOECD/UK conference 'New Biotechnology Food and Crops: Science, Safety and Society' held in Bangkok, Thailand, July 2001 the importance of considering all aspects relating to the use of modern foodbiotechnology emerged.
The study was aimed at complementing the efforts of other international agencies by collating already existing information and analyzing it as it pertains to the WHO mandate. To...