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5-Animals: Portuguese animal feed industry's thoughts about GE feed

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Portugal feed industry says GM safety paramount 
By David Brough

LISBON,  March 25 (Reuters) - Portugal's animal feed industry believes 
food  safety is paramount in the debate over whether to use genetically 
modified (GM) foodstuffs, a spokesman said on Thursday. Luis Marques, 
secretary general of the Feed Compounders Association (IACA), said it was 
too early for IACA to take a position on GM foods as not enough 
information was available about possible long-term health risks. Our 
biggest concern is for food safety," he told Reuters in a telephone 
interview. "The debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remains 
confused because there is no concrete information on the possible 
consequences of GMOs for health," he added. IACA spokesman Jaime Pissarra 
said he believed privately that GMOs were safe as long as they had been 
formally approved by the appropriate authorities, such as the U.S. Food 
and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Union. "If countries carry 
out adequate controls and approve GM products, then I am willing to 
accept them," he said. Pissarra said importers of maize to Portugal, a 
net importer of cereals, had shunned U.S. crop in recent months because 
of concerns it could include unapproved GM strains.

"Importers don't want to run the risk of importing unapproved strains of 
U.S. maize, and so they have turned instead to maize from Argentina and 
eastern Europe," he said. The EU permits imports of approved strains of 
GM crops like maize and soybeans but regulations governing growing of GM 
crops, whether experimental or commercial, within individual EU member 
states are still in flux. Marques and Pissarra said no Portuguese 
importer, feed compounder, retail chain or fast-food outlet was known to 
have refused to use GM foods. In Britain, some food retailers, such as 
Iceland Group, have imposed bans on the sale of genetically modified 
products as shoppers shunned what the press has dubbed "Frankenstein 
foods." Few foodstuffs sold in Portugal are labelled as containing GM 
ingredients. Portugals main consumer group, the independent Portuguese 
Association for the Defence of the Consumer (DECO), has said it backed GM 
foods as long as people were fully informed about the ingredients and 
manufacturers were liable for any health risks. 

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