Food industry compliant, suggests GM soy study

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Gm Soybean

The results of a study showing that soy products in the UK are
correctly labelled with respect to GM contamination have been
welcomed by the biotech industry.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) study found that all products surveyed were in compliance with the law.

The biotech industry has interpreted the results as strong evidence that the food-feed chain is managing to meet labelling requirements and that the threat of GM (genetically modified) contamination is exaggerated.

"I think this shows that the food industry has got things in place,"​ Simon Barber, director of the plant biotech unit (PBU) of EuropaBio told FoodNavigator.

"And I think that organisations such as Greenpeace, by intimating that these things are bad, are in essence pressuring manufacturers to view GM food as a bad."

Barber's point is that there has never been any concrete evidence that GM food is bad for humans, and that the debate over whether products have been contaminated or not has been twisted to view the technology as a bad thing.

"20 years ago, the OECD agreed rules for safety assessments. Over the next 10 years, a lot of research was carried out, and in the last 10 years, GM crops have been approved for growing and eating.

"There has never been any firm evidence that eating GM food can cause harm to humans or the environment."

But the fact remains that consumers within the EU are incredibly wary of GM, and that therefore the labelling of products is an important issue for both consumes and food makers. European GM food laws require that foods derived from GM sources should be labelled to say 'this product contains genetically modified organisms' or 'produced from genetically modified soy'.

Regulations also allow for the fact that small amounts of GM material, which have been authorised for use in the European Union, could be present because of accidental mixing of crop varieties, for example during transport or storage.

If this accidental presence in the final product is below 0.9 per cent then the final product does not need to be labelled as containing GM ingredients, providing that the manufacturer can demonstrate their efforts to avoid GM content.

The FSA examined a total of 60 samples of soy ingredients, including flour and textured soy protein. These were collected by 14 local authorities across the UK between February and April 2005 from a range of manufacturing premises.

These were analysed for Roundup Ready soy, a GM (genetically modified) soy that has been in use in food in the UK since 1995.

Out of the 60 samples, 54 (90 per cent) were either negative in a screening test or did not contain quantifiable levels of GM soy. The remaining six samples were found to have very low levels of GM soy, which after taking the uncertainty of the method into account, were all around the lowest levels of measurement (0.06 per cent - 0.1 per cent).

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