Tainted GM maize impounded at Irish port (25/5/2005)


Tainted biotech maize impounded at Irish port
Wed May 25, 2005 12:59 PM ET

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A United States consignment of genetically modified corn gluten feed tainted with an illegal strain has been impounded upon arrival at an Irish port, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

The feed was contaminated with the banned Bt-10, a genetically modified (GMO) maize made by Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta .

The shipment was tested in the United States and the positive results for Bt-10 were sent to Ireland to allow Dublin to stop the cargo on arrival, the EU executive said.

"The Irish authorities are taking necessary measures to ensure that the contaminated consignment does not enter the food chain," Commission spokesman Philip Tod told a news conference.

Last month the European Union blocked imports of maize from the United States unless shipments carried proof that they were free of Bt-10, which is not authorized for use either in Europe or the United States.

The curb will be reviewed at the end of October but the EU's food safety chief said last month the conditional ban may be extended if more contaminated products were discovered.

Syngenta said the impounding of the maize shipment in Ireland showed that the testing system for Bt-10 was working.

"The testing and certification implemented by the European Union is doing exactly what it is supposed to do," said a Syngenta spokesman.

U.S. exporters send 3.5 million tonnes of corn gluten feed to Europe each year, a trade worth some 350 million euros ($440 million).

In March Syngenta said some of its maize seeds sent to the EU from the United States were mistakenly mixed with Bt-10. This insect-resistant strain is similar to Bt-11, a different GMO strain that is approved for distribution in the EU.

The maize mix-up occurred between 2001 and 2004.

(additional reporting by Pilar Wolfsteller in Zurich)

EU: Ireland intercepts U.S. biotech corn
Associated Press, Wednesday May 2005

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Irish port authorities intercepted a shipment from the United States of animal feed that contained genetically modified corn banned in the European Union, the European Commission said Wednesday.

U.S. officials tested the shipment for Bt10 corn before it left, "and notified to Irish authorities before the ship arrived" in Ireland, EU Commission spokesman Philip Tod said.

About 290 tests for Bt10 have been conducted on EU-bound shipments, but this was the first time a test turned up positive, Tod said.

The cargo will be offloaded and stored, pending a decision on its disposal, the commission said. Irish authorities will carry out a risk assessment of the other feed materials on the boat.

The EU's six-year ban on biotech foods in general ended in May 2004 when the European Commission approved a new corn developed by Swiss agrochemicals company Syngenta.

But a ban against Bt10 remains in place. The EU says it contains a gene that can make that strain of corn resistant to ampicillin, a commonly used antibiotic.

EU rules require the commission to prevent unauthorized genetically modified products from entering Europe.

Europeans have become increasingly wary what they eat, following recent food scares including mad cow disease in beef and poisonous dioxins in chickens.


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