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3-Food: Saudi Arabia approves GM food imports

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Saudi Arabia approves GM food imports
SOURCE: SciDevNet, UK, by Wagdy Sawahel
DATE:   23 Mar 2005

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Saudi Arabia approves GM food imports

[CAIRO] The Saudi Arabian Ministry of the Interior has approved imports
of genetically modified (GM) crops for human and animal consumption.

According to a 10 March report in the Saudi newspaper Alhayat, the
approval applies to all imported and locally produced products, though
currently no GM crops are grown in Saudi Arabia.

Products containing GM material will have to be labelled clearly in
Arabic and English and carry official certificates showing that they are
approved for human consumption in their country of origin.

The decision applies only to food, explicitly banning imports and
agricultural use of genetically modified animals and their by-products,
as well as imports of GM seeds, dates and decorative plants.

The Saudi Ministry of Agriculture's animal and plant quarantine
department will be responsible for implementing the regulations, which
will enter into force in September this year.

To encourage compliance with the regulations, Saudi Arabia's Chamber of
Commerce and Industry has issued information explaining the conditions
that importers of GM products must meet. Importers will need to supply
information on what genes the products contain, where the genes come
from, and details of product safety.

Mohamed A. Hamoud, head of genetic research in the Faculty of Science at
Tanta University, Egypt, says the Saudi regulations focus on ensuring the
safety of human health, without adequately protecting the environment.

"Importing GM seeds for cultivation is prohibited under the regulation,
but farmers could obtain seeds from genetically modified fruits and
vegetables imported for human consumption or plant GM seeds imported as
fodder for animals," Hamoud points out.

According to Hamoud, failure to ensure that imported GM plants are
seedless or produce no viable pollen, could result in modified genes
transferring naturally to other plants.


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