The Food Standards Agency is assessing the feasibility of establishing a review of the sort of impact novel foods ­ including GM and certain functional foods ­ have on the health of the nation once they come to market. In the first ever work undertaken in this area, Imperial College London has received a commission to undertake the feasibility study. Its research will match food consumption patterns, based on consumer spending, with health trends. An FSA spokesman said it would be looking for positive benefits as well as negative health implications. He said: "There is a lot of interest in post market surveillance, but we need to be realistic, we cannot commit to a system that will not work in practice." However, at an open meeting in Glasgow, the FSA board did not indicate that it thought the current system of safety assessment of GM and novel foods was flawed. Chairman Sir John Krebs said: "The board has raised questions but it is not calling into question the existing safety assessment. It is looking at future opportunities to enhance the process." In particular, deputy chairman Suzi Leather suggested the existing labelling requirements ­ particularly the 1% threshold ­ added to consumer confusion over GM. "We are setting people up for confusion by saying this is a precision science. But there is a high level of contamination [of GM in non GM foods]. Until we have the actual labelling people want we will have confusion." But the FSA wants to see labelling of GM animal feed sooner rather than later. The meeting marks the first step in the ongoing work of the FSA on GM. Sir John said: "In the long run we want to see if we can provide methods of additional assurance for consumers." {{NEWS }}