Brewers face GMO testing

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union

US imports of brewers' grain and feed coming into England could
face mandatory testing for contamination of genetically modified
organisms (GMO's) under new proposals revealed yesterday by the
UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The new measures, which will undergo public consultation over the next three months, would repeal legislation agreed by the by the European Union just over four months ago. The legislation made random GMO testing voluntary for brewers and farmers. If passed under its current form, the proposals by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) would force brewers into costly testing of their inputs, with the possibility of having to work with new suppliers and further raising the prices for dwindling supplies of grain. The moves are yet another twist to the ongoing saga of concerns within the EU regarding the US's use of GMO in foods, and the reported dangers of growing it near non-gmo products. On 7 March this year, under European Commission Decision 2007/157/EC , random GMO testing on US imports was made voluntary, after the EU was satisfied that the country had shown itself to have taken sufficient action to prevent the further distribution of GMO products like the Bt10 line into the supply chain. This decision in itself was a revocation of the 2005/317/EC adopted back in 2005, designed to ensure that unauthorised GMO samples had not been spread into the food and drink chain. The FSA had added that during the testing cycle, only one shipment from the US has yet found to been found to contain samples of GMOs, for the whole time the legislation was in place. The mandatory testing would apply only to imports being bought into England, though the consultation has been delayed, so that similar legislation can be possibly adopted by Wales and Scotland. The proposals will be supported by sizeable opposition within many, but not all, EU member states over adopting GMO in the food chain. Environmental groups back the stance of countries like Austria and Hungary that are strictly against any use of GMO crops on the grounds that its long term health affects remain unknown and could pose a risk to consumers. However, some organisations beleive especially with increasing pressure on global supply of crops and commoditites, that GMO's could boast strong applications for soil conservation, ensuring a sustainable supply of goods to producers in the country by using modified crops more capable of retaining water and nutrients.

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