GM DNA in food
By Alistair Driver
THE Food Standards Agency has played down fears that genetically modified DNA could be getting into the human food chain via animals reared on GM feed.
Anti-GM environmental group Greenpeace reiterated its calls for US imports of GM crops for animal feed to be banned this week.
This follows the emergence of what it calls new evidence about the "advisability of feeding animals GM crops".
It points to a report commissioned by the governments Advisory Committee on Animal Feeding Stuffs that shows GM DNA can survive the process of making animal feed.
MAFF has until now maintained that DNA is degraded during processing.
But a study undertaken by consultants ADAS found "DNA fragments large enough to contain potentially functional genes" survived processing in many of the feed samples examined.
Greenpeace said the minutes from the committee meeting show members "expressed surprise that so much DNA survived processing".
Andy Tait of Greenpeace said:
"It is beyond belief that even in the wake of the BSE crisis, independent research into the potential for GM to cross into the guts of animals was not done before these crops were allowed to market."
A Sunday newspaper picked up on the findings, suggesting they raise the possibility that the DNA could transfer to bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tracts of animals fed on this material.
But a Food Standards Agency spokeswoman said there was no evidence to suggest that this could happen. She said, although the committee was surprised at the findings, it did not believe there were any food safety implications.
"It is a very big step from GM DNA surviving the process of making animal feed to it transferring to animal or human guts," she said.
Greenpeace announced it was launching an on-line consumer guide to show consumers whether the foods they buy are non-GM.
It shows if products come from animals fed on GM crops. *