Fortress Europe looks unlikely to hold out against GM hordes

By Susan Birks

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Gm

Fortress Europe looks unlikely to hold out against GM hordes
US maize scare highlights impossible task for manufacturers

It will become increasingly difficult for European manufacturers to avoid genetically modified (GM) ingredients, industry experts warned.

Recent discoveries of unauthorised BT10-brand GM maize in the US and the sale of unlicensed GM rice seed in China have highlighted the poor policing of modified material outside the European Union (EU). As a result the EU has made it mandatory for imports of US maize gluten feed and brewers' grain to be certified non-GM by a laboratory test.

Suppliers of other maize derivatives, such as glucose and starch, are also having to reassure customers that their products are from identity preserved (IP) sources or non-US suppliers. However, the increase in GM crops around the world makes segregation harder and chances of contamination greater, said food law consultant Neville Craddock. He questioned how long Europe could remain a non-GM "fortress"

Richard Werran, md of Cert-ID UK, which carries out IP certification, said: "Remaining non-GM is going to be more complex because of the larger number of GM products on the market.

"To avoid GM soya, many manufacturers reformulated products using oilseed rape but now Roundup Ready oilseed rape is available, some manufacturers are considering a switch to sunflower oil. Manufacturers are trying to out-run the GM situation."

More firms are moving to IP sources but the cost could rise as it gets harder to segregate GM and non-GM crops.

National Starch recently earned IP certification for its non-GM products sourced in the US where traceability is a big issue. Almost half the maize grown in the US corn belt is GM and the proportion is expected to rise markedly over the next few years. Brazil also recently legalised GM maize.

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