1 February 2002

One loaf in seven has GM soya, says food agency

By Robert Uhlig, Food Correspondent

One in seven loaves, cakes, pies or pastries - including some labelled as organic - contains genetically modified Soya, according to a Government investigation.

Food campaigners said the study meant it was becoming increasingly difficult not to eat GM contaminated food, even if consumers took care to avoid it. Using technology capable of detecting tiny traces of GM material, the Food Standards Agency found 31 bakery foods out of a sample of 203 were contaminated with GM Soya

Nineteen products contained quantifiable amounts of GM Soya and a further 12 contained unquantified "traces" of the material. The brands were not named by the FSA, but it did add that one of the products was labelled "organic".

Manufacturers do not need to declare the presence of GM ingredients if they have attempted to buy supplies that are free of GM material or if GM ingredients make up less than one per cent of the product.

But in the FSA survey, three products were found to exceed the one per cent level yet did not declare the presence of GM Soya on the label. Dr Tim Lobstein, director of the Food Commission watchdog, said: "The Government knows that the majority of people don't want to eat genetically modified food.

"Now we find that it is creeping into staple foods like bread and cake, without any law to stop it or any label to warn consumers." The FSA said there was no risk to consumers, as the GM Soya identified in the tests was of a variety that had been approved by the European Commission as safe to eat.

But Dr Lobstein said this was irrelevant. "It is not so much a question of safety - we may not know if GM foods are safe to eat for years to come - but it is a question of citizens' rights."