Council bans GM foodfrom school meals


11 December 1998


Council bans GM food
from school meals

By Jonathan Riley

IN what is believed to be the first case of its kind, councillors in West Sussex have banned genetically-modified foods from school meals.

The ban, which covers all meals provided by social services, was introduced because of growing public concern about whether foods are safe, said a spokeswoman.

But the councillors are now worried that current food labelling laws mean they are unable to guarantee completely GM-free school meals.

A European directive introduced earlier this year requires companies to show whether GM soya and maize are used in their foodstuffs.

But the regulation exempts commonly used ingredients such as soya oil and the thickening agent lecithin.

Opponents have attacked the loophole, claiming it could mean most processed foods will contain undisclosed GM derivatives in the future.

“This is an issue we feel strongly about, and we have taken this up with MAFF,” the council spokeswoman said.

MAFF has assured West Sussex that all GM ingredients currently being sold in the UK are safe.

But the spokeswoman said the GM food ban would remain until councillors had more information about what ingredients were included.

“Until we have accurate labelling, the ban will stay in place,” she said.

Meanwhile, Labour Euro-MP David Hallam has warned UK farmers to be cautious before embracing the GM crops being developed by biotechnology companies.

“These companies will demand massive royalties for using their genetic material several generations on,” Mr Hallam told a farmers meeting in Wroxeter, Shropshire.

“Eventually farmers could be squeezed between the big battalions – the bio-tech firms and the supermarkets.

“Consumers will be uneasy with the new products and I predict there could be massive food scares,” he said.

Mr Hallam said he was unconvinced that testing procedures could reassure the public whether food was free of GM ingredients.

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