05 February 1999
No test for GM contamination

TECHNOLOGY for testing whether foods contain genetically modified (GM) material is lagging behind consumer demands for labelling, reports the Financial Times.

Tests can detect the presence of 1% or more GM material in a raw ingredient such as soya or maize flour.

But product accurate analysis becomes difficult when GM ingredients are used in complex processed foods such as cakes or chocolate.

The European Commissions Joint Research Centre is sponsoring trials to evaluate GM tests.

But consumers will find making a choice increasingly difficult in the meantime, says the FT.

Farmers in the USA, Argentina and China have quickly assimilated the benefits of genetic engineering and are pushing production targets.

The total area worldwide planted with GM crops rose from 2.8 million hectares (6.9m acres) in 1996 to 12.9m hectares (31.8m acres) in 1997 and an estimated 30m hectares (74.1m acres) last year.

This year about half the US soya and a third of the maize harvest will come from plants engineered to resist herbicide or disease.

  • Financial Times 05/02/99 page 11