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Tests Find Many Unlabeled GE Foods in British Supermarket

Tests Find Many Unlabeled GE Foods
in British Supermarket

DAILY MAIL (London)
August 13, 2001

THE BIG GM COVER-UP

BY: SEAN POULTER

ONE in ten foods on sale in high street stores contains GM ingredients
without declaring details on the label, an investigation has revealed.
Everyday products such as bread, cakes, burgers, ready meals, soya products
and crisps were involved, sold at a wide range of outlets and including
household names.

The major supermarkets claim to have removed GM ingredients from their
own-brand products in response to customer concerns. But the discovery of
the deception - which is a criminal offence - makes it clear manufacturers
and retailers are failing to carry out proper checks.

EU rules allow foods to contain up to 1 per cent GM ingredients without
declaring the fact on the label.

Trading standards officers found, however, that a tenth of the foods they
examined were above this limit. In one case, more than 5 per cent of the
soya present in one product was genetically modified.
Friends of the Earth said the survey was 'very worrying'.
'People have made it very clear that they don't want to eat GM food and now
the labelling regulations are failing them,' spokesman Carol Kearney added
yesterday.

'More rigorous enforcement is needed. If people want to avoid GM food, the
safest bet is to buy organic food.' The monitoring and enforcement of GM
contamination and labelling rules is down to trading standards officers, who
work for local authorities but often lack the necessary expertise or
resources.

If prosecuted and convicted, companies could be fined GBP 2,000, although
'naming and shaming' them would have a far bigger impact.
There is no evidence that GM products harm human health, although critics
argue that more research is needed.

There are, however, issues of customer information and choice as many
consumers want GM-free food on principle.

There is also support for Prince Charles ' s fear that the new technology
interferes with nature.

While there is no suggestion that manufacturers are deliberately using GM
ingredients, it appears there are problems in the supply chain.
Many companies have systems to separate GM and non-GM ingredients but
consignments can be mixed accidentally in bulk container ships, lorries and
port storage facilities.

Contamination can even happen while crops are in the ground from GM pollen
blown from fields two or three miles away.
The study testing 40 random products was carried out in Kent by Medway
Council's public protection team but its results are thought to reflect
problems nationwide.

A spokesman said: 'Traces of GM products were found that had not been
identified and the results were forwarded to those responsible.'
The council refused to identify the manufacturers and stores involved, but
said it had issued warnings demanding improvements.
s.poulter@dailymail.co.uk

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