3-Food: Illegal US soy imports in UK
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Stop GM Foods - Scientists find banned soya in UK products
March 14, 1999
UNLICENSED genetically modified crops are entering the food chain in
Britain because the Government is unable to control the import of
Traces of genetically modified soya beans which have not been licensed as
safe for human consumption in Europe have been identified in products on
sale in this country.
The Ministry for Agriculture Fisheries and Food is investigating a
complaint by trading standards officers that the beans have passed into
the food chain through the back door.
Government officials have also been involved in meetings with their
European counterparts to try to devise a strategy for monitoring imports.
"There are concerns that this might happen and it is being dealt with
community wide," said a spokesman for the Department for Environment,
Transport and the Regions.
The latest furore over genetically modified food follows a survey by
Worcestershire trading standards officers. Tests by their scientists
found that GM soya had been used in 60 out of 200 samples but only one of
the products was properly labelled.
More worryingly, however, the tests also identified a type of genetically
modified bean which is not licensed for sale in Europe. Only one soya -
produced by the biotechnology giant Monsanto - has been granted a licence
in Europe but the bean contained in the sample was not this strain.
Scientists believe it was probably another type of GM soya which is legal
in the United States but banned in Britain.
Clive Graham, one of the trading standards officers involved in the
investigation, said he had been "very concerned" to discover the
unlicensed soya. "This is an illegal ingredient and we are now
investigating to try to trace the source," he said. "Maff has also been
Carol Stevens, of Worcestershire Scientific Services, confirmed that the
department's screening had discovered a "rogue element" in the samples.
"The soya was genetically modified but it did not follow the same pattern
as licensed GM soya," she said.
Pete Riley, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth, said the development
was "extremely worrying." He said: "If this is true, the Government is
rapidly losing control. Food which has not passed through UK safety tests
is already in the food chain."
The only soya bean licensed for sale in Europe is Monsanto's Round Up
Ready Soya, which was approved in 1996. The other soya has been developed
in the US by AgrEvo, designed to be resistant to a particular weedkiller,
but it is still unlicensed in the UK.
-| Hartmut Meyer
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-| Reinhaeuser Landstr. 51
-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| phone: #49-551-7700027
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