19 November 2002
GM CONTAMINATION OF ORGANIC ANIMAL FEED
THE SOIL ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE
14 NOVEMBER 2002
Organic soya used in livestock feed has been found to be contaminated with genetically modified organisms. The discovery was made following tests carried out on behalf of SA Cert (Soil Association Certification Limited) during a scheduled inspection.
Samples were collected at a feed mill producing organic and non-organic animal feed. No further organic feed containing soya will leave the mill until SA Cert has identified how the contamination occurred and is fully satisfied that measures are in place to prevent any future contamination.
The organic soya has been contaminated with GM Roundup Ready soya which is manufactured by Monsanto and genetically engineered to be resistant to their Roundup herbicide.
A meeting was held on 8 November between staff from SA Cert and the feed mill. The feed mill - which is working closely with SA Cert - has started the process of identifying any affected products.
This is the first time that SA Cert has received a confirmed positive result of GM contamination of an organic product. The soya - which has been certified as organic by another UK certifier - is believed to have been imported from Italy. The certifying body has been informed about the issue and has not yet established how or where the contamination occurred.
SA Cert now commissions tests on products at risk from GM contamination - currently soya, maize and oilseed rape. In the light of this incident, SA Cert is writing to licensees immediately informing them that at-risk products certified by other organic certifiers will have to be tested and shown to be free of GM contamination prior to their inclusion in certified feed.
"The biotechnology industry must pay for testing and costs resulting from GM contamination and we have asked the Government for an urgent meeting to discuss the matter," says Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association.
"This is a case of the polluted paying, which is fundamentally wrong. It is unjust for the cost to fall on hard-pressed organic farmers or on people who buy organic food. They didn't create this problem. The Soil Association has predicted for some time that GM would cause widespread contamination and the current problem only came to light because SA Cert initiated its own testing programme.
"Our pledge remains to do everything possible to exclude GMOs and their derivatives from the organic food chain."