GM database could hamper research, says government

Research into nanomaterials by food companies could be hampered if industry were to follow House of Lords recommendations into food science transparency, a government report has said.

The government was responding to a House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report in January 2010, which criticised food manufacturers for “failing to be transparent” over research into nanotechnology, such as GM foods.

The House of Lords study called for the introduction of a mandatory confidential database, in which companies would have to inform government on nanomaterials being researched within the food sector. However, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said this could actually hinder scientific development.

The response report said: “It is inevitable that businesses will be wary of releasing information about their research, even to a government department, where that information is commercially sensitive and of value to their competitors.

However, while a mandatory reporting requirement for food-related research would ensure that information is provided, it could also act as a deterrent for companies and other laboratories to carry out research and development in the UK, if they could avoid any reporting requirement by transferring this work to other jurisdictions.”

The FSA, which coordinated the government’s response, has added that it welcomed the House of Lords committee’s report and its recommendations, many of which are already being taken forward, it claimed.

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