'Contaminated' Soymeal Threatens EU Trade

The discovery of traces of unathorized variety of genetically modified maize in a batch of soymeal in Germany is threatening to bring EU trade in soymeal to a standstill.

Traces of the prohibited GM variety MON88017 were found in soymeal processed in Germany from US soybeans.

The discovery throws open once again the whole debate on the EU's existing zero-tolerance policy to GM varieties in food and feed.

A letter to the EU Commission, signed by many of the EU food and feed trade bodies such as Coceral and FEFAC says:

"The cross contamination of the soybeans with MON88017 was due, in all likelihood, to dust prevalent in the transport and handling chain. This clearly demonstrates that, despite all precautions taken by the operators, it is not possible to guarantee 100% purity. Therefore, cross-contamination as notified by the German authorities can re-occur at any time leaving the whole chain at risk."

The letter goes on to say:

"Although the genetically modified maize in question has been assessed safe for both feed and food uses trace amounts could force operators to stop imports of soybeans completely."

Fait accompli?