Elements of precaution: recommendations for the regulation of food biotechnology in Canada
This report — produced by a fourteen-member expert panel set up by the Royal Society of Canada — makes a number of recommendations to enhance the regulatory system for foods derived through the use of recombinant DNA technology. The report attracted considerable attention because of its focus upon the risks that may be posed by future biotechnology products, and the regulatory approaches and processes that will be required to assure health and environmental safety.
Given the many scientific uncertainties that remain in the assessment of the safety of GM food products, the panel argues that a prudent, or precautionary approach to the regulation of these technologies will require careful research and rigorous testing in order to reduce these uncertainties, and to maintain public confidence in the management of any potential harms to human, animal or environmental health. The panel also paid close, critical attention to the highly controversial principle of "substantial equivalence" as a regulatory concept. They concluded that the preferred approach would be to carry out a rigorous analysis of the consequences of the presence of the transgene by employing direct testing for harmful outcomes.