The Dutch Food Safety Authority (VWA) announced today that it is recalling part of a cargo containing illegal Genetically Engineered (GE) maize imported from the United States of America. The VWA has also announced that it will step up inspections of US ships, from 10 to 25%. A press release issued by VWA confirms Greenpeace’ announcement made on 27 April 2007 (1) that the vessel Pakrac, which arrived in the port of Rotterdam on 10 April, brought maize containing GE Herculex RW maize gluten, produced by Pioneer/Dow. This type of GE maize is grown in the US, but is not allowed in the European Union.
Landraces varieties of Mexican maize. Oaxaca, Mexico.
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. In the case of the Pakrac,
despite the early warning issued by Greenpeace, the recall was
ordered only after part of the illegal maize had already entered
the food chain.
"The Pakrac cargo is just the tip of the iceberg; many more
illegal GE shipments could be slipping into the EU, given the lack
of systematic controls. The EU should suspend all imports of US
maize and other agricultural products that are under suspicion of
being contaminated by GE organisms until they can institute a
proper system to protect consumers, farmers and the environment
from the risks of unwanted GE food and animal feed," said Myrto
Pispini, Genetic Engineering campaigner, Greenpeace
On 10 April 2006, members of a Greenpeace Biosafety Patrol took
samples of maize from the cargo of the Pakrac. Scientific analysis
of these samples confirmed the suspicion that the shipment
contained illegal varieties of genetically engineered maize
(Pioneer/Dow Herculex RW), including Monsanto's MON863 variant,
which is currently under review in EU for potential health risks.
(2) Greenpeace released these test results and called on the VWA to
clamp down on all maize imports from America, and to prevent the
tainted maize from being distributed.
However, VWA has recalled only the maize gluten that has not yet
been processed, and not the quantity already processed into animal
feed. The recalled maize will either be sent back to the US or
burned in the Netherlands. According to VWA, the processed products
are not being recalled, because "there is no risk for animals' or
consumers' health. The same approach was followed last year when
illegal GE rice entered The Netherlands." VWA also states that the
body "expects that the illegal Herculex maize will be legalised in
the European Union in the near future."
"The role of the EU Commission and EU governments is not to
support the biotech industry but to monitor it strictly! On what
basis is the VWA assuming that this maize will be legalised? And
even if it were to be legalised at a future date, as of now, this
contaminant maize has not been approved for imports in the EU -and
is clearly an illegal import. According to EU law authorities must
recall the entire tainted cargo and either destroy it, or return it
to the original senders for proper disposal," concluded
VVPR info: Myrto Pispini, Genetic Engineering campaigner, Greenpeace International: +306979443304Namrata Chowdhary, Greenpeace International Communications: +44 77 261 751 48
Notes: (1) http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/press-releases2/new-illegal-gmo-found-in-us-sh (2) MON863 maize is authorised for food-and feed use in the EU. However, GE maize MON 863 is under suspicion of posing significant health risks and is currently under review by the European Food Safety Authority, after Professor Seralini, a French scientist, published a study which demonstrates that laboratory rats, fed with a genetically engineered (GE) maize MON 863, have shown signs of toxicity in kidney and liver. Séralini, G-E, Cellier, D. & Spiroux de Vendomois, J. 2007. New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity. Published in: “Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology”.