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Experts Slice and Dice Food Safety Issues

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According to Foreman, in the months ahead the interests of many GOP voters who care strongly about food-safety issues will face a tough political fight with industry interests "who gave campaign contributions to Bush and want to drive a truck through all of these regulations."

Meanwhile, anxiety abounds about a whole new breed of foods -- the kind with genetically altered ingredients.

Some worry over a host of possible health impacts from the modified foods and point out that the government is now testing people who have claimed an allergic reaction to genetically modified corn. A major mixup last year -- the use of unapproved biotech corn in the manufacture of some Taco Bell taco shells -- introduced genetically modified StarLink animal feed corn into the human food supply.

"While new risks certainly bear attention, the risks with which we're familiar -- food poisoning -- still demand the most attention," says Ropeik.

"There's certainly no evidence that any of the biotech food on the market today is dangerous to human health," says Foreman says, but there is the possibility that allergic reactions may emerge.

"I think that's one of most overplayed fears I've heard," counters Lineback.

Regardless of possible health effects, good or ill, should genetically modified foods be labeled as such? What about foods that claim to be free of genetic alterations?

"We would like to see guidance that allows companies to make truthful and non-misleading claims one way or the other," Willard says. "We think that's the bottom line here."

But the bottom line is elsewhere for Foreman and other consumer activists, who want to see extensive safety testing on modified foods before they're allowed to hit the market.


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