GMO contamination in Kuwait Revealed

Press release - February 7, 2007
In a Press conference today, Greenpeace released test results which revealed traces of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) (1) in various maize based food products imported from the USA to the Middle East, including Kuwait.

Consumers in the Middle East are likely to be eating GMO food, not tested for long term health impacts, without knowing it. The International organization calls for a ban on GMOs, or at least, for consumers to be given the right to choose by having GMO products labelled.

"Since labelling has been enforced in the EU, food companies have banned GMO ingredients from their products because European consumers refuse to buy GMO food. Unfortunately, GMO products opposed in Europe find their way to markets where consumers are either not aware or not told about the GMO content, in this case, the Middle East" said Arnaud Apoteker, Greenpeace's Genetic Engineering campaigner.

In December 2006 Greenpeace commissioned the testing of 35 products containing corn currently sold in supermarkets in Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar. 40% (14 of 35) of the tested samples revealed positive results for contamination with GMOs. All product testing was carried out by an accredited laboratory in Berne, Switzerland.

In Kuwait specifically, 3 out of 14 products tested (2) contained GMOs. As is the case in other GCC countries, none of the products that contained GMOs were labelled, as these countries do not require labelling of such products.

Earlier in 2006, Greenpeace had found US imported rice products contaminated with an unauthorized GMO rice variety in Gulf countries (3), as well as in more than 24 countries all over the world. Yesterday, Greenpeace launched a global report on the tremendous economic impacts that contamination of the world's rice supplies with illegal and unapproved varieties of GMO rice had on all stakeholders in the rice industry worldwide.

Greenpeace calls upon food retailers and relevant authorities in Kuwait to put measures in place to ban GMOs from the shelves or at a minimum give consumers the right to choose by labelling GMO products, as is required in more and more countries around the world.

VVPR info: Basma Badran, Greenpeace International Communications (Beirut) Mob +961 3797 449 email: rnaud Apoteker, Greenpeace International, +965 7315875 (Kuwait)

Notes: Testing results, the Rice report, and more info can be found on the following websites www.greenpeace.org (English), www.greenpeace.org.lb (Arabic)Notes to Editors: (1) Genetic Engineering is a technique allowing the insertion of foreign genes into random positions in the DNA of a host, e.g. a plant or crop. These hosts are then subsequently screened for the desirable trait inserted, e.g. resistance to a chemical weed-killer. Genetic engineering breaks the natural boundaries that exist between species. Genetic engineering can manipulate genes from animals, plants, and even humans. No one knows what the long-term effects of GE organisms on the environment will be. (2) Corn Meal (Aunt Jemima), Instant Corn Masamix (Maseca), Brand Tortilla Chips (Tostitos) (3) Greenpeace tested five packages of US long grain rice June 2006. Testing showed that 4/5 packages (80%) showed contamination with LL601, a variety of rice that had not been approved for consumption anywhere in the world at that time.