GM Free Cymru

EC slammed for "complete breakdown of GM testing and labelling scheme"

Press Notice from GM Free Cymru 1st May 2007

The EC has been heavily criticised for a complete breakdown of its GM testing and labelling scheme, which is supposed to protect consumers across Europe from exposure to unauthorised and toxic GM products. In a letter to EC Commissioners Dimas and Kyprianou, watchdog organization GM Free Cymru has complained that the US regulatory authorities have gone back on their promise to prevent illegal GM contamination of food and animal feed cargoes destined for Europe through careful testing and "GM Free" certification.

Recently there was another reported case of American long-grain rice contamination by the illegal variety LL601. Pre-packaged long-grain rice which arrived in Sweden in January tested positive for the banned GM material (1) in spite of the fact that it was certified as GM Free following the EU agreement with the USA in September 2006. About 600 tonnes of rice had to be recalled from stores where it was already on sale.

Also, it is now known that US long-grain rice supplies are contaminated by not just one GM variety (LL601) but by four and possibly five different GM lines (2). One of these lines has still not been identified. There appears to have been extensive out- crossing between experimental GM lines of rice and non-GM varieties grown nearby. Because of the extent of the contamination incident, Europe is now virtually closed off to US long-grain rice supplies, and the economic effect upon the rice industry of the Southern States has been catastrophic.

Much more serious was yesterday's announcement that a cargo of maize unloaded in Dublin and Rotterdam, and certified on export as "non- GMO" by the US authorities, was in fact heavily contaminated by MON863 maize and by a new illegal GM variety known as Herculex, patented by Pioneer and Dow Agrosciences (3). The GM Free Ireland Alliance stated: "This total breakdown of our food safety and traceability system is a clear breach of EU Regulation 1829/2003. It proves once again that the existing mechanisms of EU legislation concerning GMOs are not effective and can not protect consumers, farmers, companies and the environment from unwanted GM contamination."

Greenpeace International (which discovered the contamination in a cargo that had not been tested by either the Irish or Dutch authorities) has now requested the European Commission to take immediate steps to halt all maize and other food and feed shipments imported from the USA, until a rigorous comprehensive testing programme and traceability system is fully implemented in compliance with EU law. In the case of the Herculex GM maize, it could not at first be identified because the testing laboratories did not know what DNA characteristics to look for.

Speaking for GM Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said: "It is now clear that cargoes of GM contaminated feedstuffs from the United States are routinely coming into EU ports accompanied by false certification. We warned at the time of the LL rice contamination fiasco that American millers and exporters could use crude GM testing methods designed to produce negative results, so that the "non-GMO" label could be applied to cargoes destined for Europe. That may be the reason why contaminated materials are slipping through the net. Alternatively, the Unites States Dept of Agriculture (USDA) is involved in fraud and is cynically manipulating the testing and certification system in pursuit of a policy of "contamination by stealth." The American administration knows that neither USDA nor the exporters will be prosecuted in Europe. The EU nation states have dropped their guard, and it is an indictment of the system that we now have to depend upon Greenpeace to identify contamination and raise the alarm."

Dr John said that GM Free Cymru supported the Greenpeace call for a moratorium on all imports of food and animal feed containing soy, maize and canola from the United States on the basis that they are likely to be contaminated with illegal toxic GM materials. He added that his organization is calling for that moratorium to remain in place until such time that USDA puts in place a proper and verified GM testing, traceability and labelling system for all cargoes leaving US ports; and until all EU countries have in place a testing regime which provides adequate protection for the public.

ENDS Contact: Brian John GM Free Cymru Tel 01239-820470


(1) USA Rice Daily, Tuesday, April 10, 2007 LLRice601 Found in U.S. Shipment

(2) The varieties responsible for contamination are LL601, LL62, LL604, LL06 and another which may be a Roundup Ready (Monsanto) variety. AR2007031001323_pf.html