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Checkbiotech: Green light from Brussels for GM corn in food formulations
Posted by: DR. RAUPP & madora (IP Logged)
Date: October 28, 2004 06:40AM ;

GM starch and corn oil are cleared for use in European food formulations
after Brussels gives the green light on a genetically modified maize line
from US biotech giant Monsanto, reports Lindsey Partos, October 2004 .

Facing the fury of anti-GM campaigners, earlier this year the Commission
broke the de facto moratorium on GM foods and pushed through approval, the
first, for a GM sweetcorn supplied by Swiss biotech firm Syngenta to enter
the food chain. Monsanto?s clearance marks the second.

The biotech firm?s NK603 maize had already been approved for import and use
in animal feed in Europe, but with both approvals in place food makers can
now use the maize and its derivatives in a raft of food products. The GM
sweetcorn cannot be cultivated in Europe.

David Byrne, the Commissioner responsible for health and consumer
protection, claims a clear labelling system now in place for GM foodstuffs
in Europe means that ?consumers can now choose whether or not to buy any
genetically modified products?. Opening the door to allowing new GM products
onto the marketplace.

But the unpopularity of biotech crops in the minds of the European consumer
means the food industry has been slow to embrace the GM food sources on the
grounds of simple business sense. Food manufacturers keen to keep sales
afloat will reject any use of genetically modified sources in their
formulations, and consequently any need to GM label.

A recent survey polled by the UK?s consumer magazine Which? found that
consumers in the UK feel even more strongly about GM foods than they did two
years ago and more than six out of 10 people (61 per cent) were concerned
about the use of GM material in food production - up from 56 per cent in

Shoppers are not only concerned about GM ingredients in food; 68 per cent
want manufacturers to go one step further and source non-GM animal feed, so
meat and dairy products would have no links with the GM process.

Although the member states had earlier failed to give the green light for
the Monsanto GM NK603 corn, the Commission pushed approval through under a
facet of European law known as the ?comitology procedure? - when the
European council of ministers fails to reach a majority decision, the
Commission itself can force it through.

Critics suggest the Commission move is for the most part political, linked
to pressure from the US ? a leading global supporter and supplier of GM food
crops ? that continues to push Europe into accepting GMOs into the food
chain. The US charges that its biotech farmers are losing billions of
dollars in trade as the borders to Europe remain closed.

In 2000 the US cleared the NK603 maize, designed for increased tolerance to
the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Monsanto herbicide
Roundup, for crop production. Japan and Canada gave the green light for
production of NK603 in 2001, and all these countries allow its use in human
food and animal feed. Australia joined the club in 2002 when it cleared the
way for NK 603 use in food, although it is still banned in animal feed and
crop production.

Non-GM maize, or corn, is grown commercially in over 100 countries, with a
combined global harvest of about 590 million metric tonnes. Major producers
of maize in 2000 were the US, China, Brazil, Mexico, France, and Argentina.
Maize is grown primarily for its kernel, which is largely refined into
products used in a wide range of food, medical, and industrial goods.


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