Dutch to increase import checks following GM discovery (12/5/2007)

Dutch to increase import checks following GM discovery
By George Reynolds

11/05/2007 - Dutch inspections of US shipments will increase following the discovery of genetically modified (GM) maize banned in the EU as part of a Netherlands bound cargo.

The control measures may allay fears that GM imports are slipping into the European supply chain undetected, but they could also lead to delays.

The discovery also highlights the need for processors to have tracking and traceability of their supplies in place.

The Dutch Food Safety Authority (VWA) announced that it was recalling part of a cargo containing the corn and intended to increase inspections to one in four shipments from one in ten.

Dutch authorities traced the origin of the corn, Herculex RW 59122, back to producers Pioneer/Dow and now plan to destroy the crop.

Monsanto's MON863, currently under review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), was also found to be a contaminant in the shipment.

The crop was intended for animal feed, but Greenpeace also found maize flour containing 1.9 per cent GM crops - above the legal limit of 0.9 per cent - on board the ship.

Described as GM-free on official documents, the maize was identified in samples taken from a ship by environmental group Greenpeace, with the permission of the captain, in April.

"Greenpeace supports the Dutch authorities' attempt to contain the spread of illegal contaminated maize but criticises both EU and Dutch authorities for being unable to detect and prevent the entry of illegal GE varieties into the EU," Greenpeace stated on its website.

Access to the ships documents has been requested by Greenpeace, which said that it believed the latest discovery is the tip of the iceberg.

"The system is not designed to find these kinds of breaches. This is fourth time that GM products have entered the EU illegally in the last two years and none of these incidents were originally discovered by the authorities," a Greenpeace spokesperson said.

In October, EU countries stepped-up testing of US long-grain rice shipments after two banned GM strains were accidentally imported.

In 2005 the VWA carried out 1,582 tests and inspections on ships for GM contamination. Last year it carried out just 175, Greenpeace claimed.

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