GENET archive


2-Plants: EU considers import stopp of Bt10 maize products

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  EU may move against U.S. corn gluten suspected of biotech taint
SOURCE: The Associated Press, by Raf Casert
DATE:   14 Apr 2005

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EU may move against U.S. corn gluten suspected of biotech taint

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union said Wednesday it could decide by the
weekend to ban U.S. shipments of suspect corn gluten animal feed unless it
has full assurance that the imports are free of the Bt10 unauthorized
genetically modified corn.

The move could affect millions of dollars in corn gluten exports. Shipments
totaled $450 million last year.

The dispute centers on a batch of Bt10 that Swiss agrochemicals company
Syngenta AG inadvertently sold to farmers in the United States and exported
to Europe without approval. The EU has said that, at the moment, it knows of
no foolproof way to detect Bt10 and wants to keep the unauthorized strain

The EU head office is preparing unspecified measures to counter what some
consider a threat and hopes to have them approved by late Friday, said EU
spokesman Philip Tod.

Although no specific measures have been approved, Tod said that "what we are
talking about is that the concerned imports from the U.S. would have to be
accompanied by an analytical report from an accredited lab certifying that
they are free of Bt10."

Yet, even if the corn gluten exports get approval from U.S. certified labs,
EU member states could still demand more checks.

The EU head office is in constant contact with U.S. authorities about the
issue. A ban on corn gluten imports could further strain trans-Atlantic
trade relations.

Syngenta said last week it had reached a settlement with the U.S. government
over the inadvertent sale to farmers of Bt10, which has not been approved by
American or European regulators.

Under the settlement reported with U.S. authorities, Syngenta would pay a
fine of $375,000 and teach its employees the importance of complying with
all rules.

The EU has been annoyed that U.S. authorities allowed the export of Bt10 to
Europe after it was mixed up with an authorized Syngenta corn labeled Bt11.

About 1,000 tons of animal feed and food products such as oil and flour
containing the suspect corn are thought to have entered the EU since 2001.

The case has underscored European anxiety about biotech foods, coming
shortly after the EU relaxed restrictions on genetically modified

Greenpeace urged the European Union on Tuesday to ban all food crop imports
from the United States.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Illegal GM ingredient Bt10 unlikely to pose risk, says EFSA
SOURCE: Foodnavigator, France
        posted by, Switzerland
DATE:   14 Apr 2005

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Illegal GM ingredient Bt10 unlikely to pose risk, says EFSA

Vulnerabilities in the international food chain evident as an unapproved
genetically modified corn leaks into feed, flour and oils; but Europe’s
food safety agency says this week the illegal Bt10 corn is unlikely to pose
any threat to health or the environment, Lindsey Partos reports.

The opinion from the European Food Safety Authority comes after Swiss
biotech firm Syngenta recently announced it had accidentally sold
unapproved genetically modified seed corn in the US for four years;
resulting in about 133 million kilograms of the corn making its way into
the food chain.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has said
it thought about 1,000 metric tons of the unauthorised strain of Bt10 corn,
all grown in the US, had entered member states through animal feed, corn
flour and corn oil.

Between 2001 and 2004, Syngenta accidentally sold Bt 10 corn, mistaking it
for the variety Bt 11, approved for food and feed use imports into the EU.

Both varieties produce a bacterial toxin that kills insects, using the same
inserted gene and producing the same protein. The only difference is the
location of the inserted gene, Syngenta claims.

In its statement on Tuesday, EFSA said that a similar strain of Bt-10
examined last year showed that corn of this type is "unlikely to alter the
existing pool of bacteria" resistant to ampicillin (an antibiotic), and
that research so far indicated that ampicillin-resistant genes do not
spread through pollination from genetically modified corn to normal corn.

The company says it discovered the mistake for itself when it switched to a
new quality control system that tests for DNA directly. Previously it had
tested only for proteins, which meant the two varieties appeared identical.

Last week the US department of agriculture fined Syngenta $375,000 for the
slip up.

The failure of testing to detect an unapproved corn present in the food
chain for the past four years will do little to reassure the GM cynical
European consumer.

Environment group Greenpeace this week called on the Commission to ban all
food, feed crops and seeds from the US, “as long as EU authorities do not
have the means to test imports for illegal genetically modified organisms”.

Responding to the Syngenta slip up, the Commission said this week it will
push ahead with tough rules as quickly as possible to prevent any more of
the unauthorised corn from entering the European Union and placing the
burden of proof heavily on the US.

Strict new rules on the labelling of GM ingredients on foodstuffs enforced
last year now provide the European consumer with the choice to buy foods
with GM ingredients in the recipe, or not.

But in tune with their biotech wary consumers and with the knowledge such
products are unlikely to fly off the shelves, the large majority of food
manufacturers have opted out of using approved GM food imports in

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinaeckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(at)
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