UAE Protects Public Health with New Genetically Modified Food Law
In response to public and environmental health concerns about “Frankenstein foods”, here’s what the new law has to say
16 June 2019
In a recent development to the UAE’s standards on community safety, a new law was passed to ensure that the public health is safeguarded and that food products adhere to rigorous evaluation.
The Federal Law on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms is designed to protect the public health and the environment.
- PUBLIC HEALTH – From genetically modified food risks.
- THE ENVIRONMENT – Risks from the development, manufacture, production, and transportation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), products, and technology used. This includes food, livestock feed, and materials used to prevent insects and other pests.
What are genetically modified foods?
Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods wherein its genetic makeup (DNA) has been artificially retailored and modified. This results in a combination of plant, animal, virus, and bacteria genes that otherwise don’t occur naturally.
GMOs – harmful or helpful? Here’s some food for thought…
DNA alterations can make produces more resistant to insects, pests, disease, and rough weather.
Those who advocate for GM food products such as Professor Johnathan Napier, who spearheaded the biotechnology to GM a plant to produce omega-3 fish oil, said that some genetically engineered products have proven useful. Insulin for people with diabetes and laundry powders, to name a few.
But most consumers tend to avoid modified food products and for well-enough reasons.
The objections to GM foods are that:
- Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are bad for the ecosystem.
- GMOs negatively affect human health.
Campaigners against GMOs are concerned that modifications to protect produce from agricultural pests can result in tougher, more aggressive insects.
Habiba Al Marashi, chairwoman of the Emirates Environmental Group, said ‘’…it can be left to the consumers to choose whether they would like to purchase an organic, GMO or alternatively grown product, on the condition that the consumers have been educated and given enough awareness.’’
The new law is in line with the UAE National Strategy of Wellbeing 2031, dedicated to improving the public’s lifestyle via the promotion of physical and mental health.
How do I know which foods are GM?
According to Gulf News, there are over 28 approved GM plants around the world that uses over 400 types of genetic modification in more than 40 countries.
Here is a list of the most common GM food products:
- Sweet corn
- Sugar beets
But rest assured – there are plenty of crunchy veggies and succulent steaks in Dubai that come from local and international farms that have never touched a single GMO. Organic greens and grass-fed livestock can be identified with labels.
With the new law, you can bet your next grocery run will have products conforming to a high standard of safety evaluation processes.
So, you can relax and bite on that apple – phew.