GM in your cornflakes? Food fears as U.S. approve new genetically engineered maize
Wheat growers and millers in America, fear that food crops will become contaminated with the GM maize
Breakfast cereals, including corn flakes, bread and snacks are under threat after the US authorities approved the growing of a new GM maize.
The warning is significant because it comes from the North American Millers' Association, a food industry trade body, rather than green campaigners.
The new maize or corn has been genetically modified to be used to create ethanol, which is being promoted as a substitute for petrol.
However, wheat growers, food companies and millers in America, fear that food crops will become contaminated with the GM maize, which has been developed by biotech company Syngenta.
They say that changes made to the corn would taint any food products that it gets into.
The US Department for Agriculture (USDA) has allowed the growing of Sungenta's 3272 Amylase Corn without water-tight controls to ensure it is kept separate from food crops.
Once the crop is grown on a large scale in the US, there is every chance it will become mixed with food standard corn and be exported around the world, including the UK.
The issue turns the spotlight on the attitude of the British Government and the beleagued Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, to GM crops.
Britain is currently lobbying within the EU to allow crops tainted with low levels of non-approved GM varieties to be imported from other parts of the world.
The Millers' Association said it was 'disappointed' the GM corn had been approved without conditions.
It warned: 'Syngenta's own scientific data released last month shows if this corn is co-mingled with other corn, it will have significant adverse impacts on food product quality and performance.'
Association president, Mary Waters, said: 'USDA has failed to provide the public with sufficient scientific data on the economic impacts of contamination on food production.'
The corn contains a powerful enzyme that breaks down the starch inside the plant, which is a cost saving function for ethanol production.
The association said that it if were to enter the food processing stream, the same function that benefits ethanol production will damage the quality of food products like breakfast cereals, snack foods, and battered products.
The concerns are all the more important because the association is a well-known supporter of GM crops and food.
Director of the Britiish lobbying group, GM Freeze, Pete Riley, said: 'UK ministers are supporting EC moves to allow low level GM contamination of unapproved GM traits in animal feed and are reported to be pressing for an extension of this ill conceived policy to cover food imports as well.
'The history of the biotech industry in the US shows a trail of contamination incidents and Syngenta's starch decomposing maize will surely get into the food chain and create major economic problems and health scares.
'The developing row between the giant US food companies, the US Department of Agriculture and Syngenta is a taste of what could happen in the UK if the zero tolerance policy on unapproved GM crops is dropped.
'Mrs Spelman has to take note and cast the UK's votes against the EC plans to contaminate our food chain.'
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