News: Politics, Regulatory and Market

Canada: Transgenic pork inadvertently mixed with animal feed (February 2002)

The Canadian government has undertaken action to control the unauthorised mixing of the remains of genetically modified pigs with animal feed. The presence of this genetically modified material in animal feed is supposed to pose a minimal human health risk (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, February 16, 2002


USA: Monsanto postpones market introduction of Roundup Ready wheat (February 2002)

Monsanto expects to market its genetically modified, herbicide resistant wheat by the year 2005. This postponement is due to extended preparations of the application for marketing approval for this GM wheat (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: Reuters, February 20, 2002


UK: Royal Society Report on Genetically Modified Foods (February 2002)

The Royal Society updated its 1998 report and addressed questions raised in the previous document. Among others, the issues of substantial equivalence, potential allergenicity and gene transfer in the gastro-intestinal tract are addressed. Recommendations made by the Royal Society include:

  • Genetically modified food ingredients should be evaluated for the specific use in infant formula.
  • The conditions for establishing the "substantial equivalence" of a GM food should be defined more clearly.
  • ‘Profiling" techniques are recommended to establish compositional changes.
  • In the assessment of a GM crop’s potential allergenicity, contact with the GM crop through inhalation (dust, pollen) and skin contact should be considered in addition to ingestion.


Source: Royal Society


EU establishes European Food Safety Authority (January 2002)

EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, will provide scientific advise to the EU policy makers and communicate directly with the public, if necessary. Among others, advise on GM foods will be provided by the EFSA Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: Consumer Voice, January 2002


French Food Safety Authority advises on safety testing of genetically modified foods (January 2002)

AFSSA, the French National Food Safety Authority, published recommendations on the safety testing requirements for genetically modified foods. AFSSA states that the "substantial equivalence" of a GM food is not enough proof, and that animal experiments should always be performed. These animal experiments should include laboratory animals (rats, mice, guinea pigs) and target animals (in the case of feed for domestic animals) (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: AFSSA (in French)

Source: Reuters (cited by AgBios, in English))


Italy: zero-tolerance for contamination of crop seeds by genetically modified seeds (January 2002)

The Italian Agriculture Minister has been cited, stating that Italy would not allow the contamination of crop seeds with GM seeds (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: Reuters (cited by AgBios), January 24, 2002


Netherlands: Public Debate on Genetically Modified Concluded (January 2002)

The Dutch public has voiced its opinion in a public debate that took place in The Netherlands last year under the supervision of a commission led by politician Mr. Jan Terlouw. The aim of this debate was to find out under which conditions the Dutch citizens would be willing to accept food biotechnology. One of the recommendations emanating from this debate is the development of modern analytical techniques to assess the safety of future genetically modified crops (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: Public Debate "Eating and Genes", January 2002


OECD: Paris meeting of the OECD Task Force on the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds (December 2001)

Activities included the compilation of consensus documents on key compositional parameters for the safety evaluation of new crop varieties (including GMOs):

  • Finalised: potato and sugar beet (oilseed rape and soybean previously finalised).
  • In process: maize, wheat, rice, sunflower, and cotton.



India: Unauthorised Bt cotton planted by Indian farmers (November 2001)

Genetically modified, insect resistant cotton, which contains the insecticidal Bt protein from Bacillus thuringiensis, has been planted by Indian farmers without authorisation (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: New Scientist, November 10, 2001


USA: EPA’s reassessment of Bt cotton completed (September 2001)

Updated data are to be provided by Monsanto, including a detection method for the transgenic Cry1Ac protein, its expression levels in cotton plant tissues, its concentrations in soils of cotton fields, and a renewed homology comparison of its structure with the structures of allergens and toxins (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: EPA,Office of Pesticide Programs, September 29, 2001


USA: EPA’s Assessment of additional scientific information concerning StarLink maize (July 2001)

The Scientific Advisory Panel, which advises the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on pesticide issues, evaluated new data on Starlink maize. The genetically engineered, insect-resistant Starlink maize was found in American foods in 2000, whereas its use had been permitted for animal feed only. The panel, among others, maintained its position of a "low probability of allergenicity in the exposed population" (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: EPA, Office of Science Coordination and Policy, July 17-18, 2001


European Commission proposes new regulations on genetically modified food and -animal feed with more stringent labelling and traceability requirements (July 2001)

The proposed regulations engender all genetically modified food- and animal feed- items. Changes to present EU legislation include the mandatory labelling of products derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that do not contain genetically modified DNA or protein. A documentary system for the traceability of GMOs throughout the production chain will be imposed as well (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: DG Sanco, July 25, 2001

Press release:

Proposal for EU Regulation on labelling and traceability of GMOs:

Proposal for EU Regulation on genetically modified foods and -animal feed


OECD Bangkok Conference "New Biotechnology Food and Crops: Science Safety and Society" (July 2001)

This conference was organised by OECD and British Commonwealth as a follow-up to the Edinburgh conference last year. Conference conclusions were to be presented to the G8 in advance of their Genoa summit (Comment ENTRANSFOOD).

Source: OECD, July 2001


USA: CDC’s investigation of human health effects associated with potential exposure to genetically modified corn (June 2001)

The American Centers for Disease Control conclude that they have failed to confirm allergenicity to Cry9C in Americans who had reported adverse reactions from foods that might have been contaminated with Starlink maize. (Comment ENTRANSFOOD)

Source: CDC, June 19, 2001


Codex Task Force on Biotechnology meets (March 2001)

The aim of this meeting is to harmonise national regulations on GM foods. On the agenda are, among others:

  • risk analysis
  • risk assessment (for example, antibiotic resistance marker genes)
  • traceability (for example, documentary systems)
  • familiarity (organism, trait and environment are familiar)
  • analytical methods (summary of methods available in each nation)

Source: FAO/WHO Codex alimentarius


New EU Directive adopted on commercial- and environmental- release of GMOs (February 2001)

The EU Council of Ministers has adopted the proposed amendments to EU Directive 90/220 for the marketing- and the environmental release- of genetically modified organisms. EU Directives must be incorporated by the EU Member States into their national laws (with some room for national adjustments). The amendments to this Directive would implicate, among others, that some of the presently approved genetically modified crops that contain antibiotic resistance marker genes may be withdrawn from the market by 2008. (Comment ENTRANSFOOD)

Source: News-service Council of Ministers, February 15, 2001

New EU Directive 2001/18 with adopted amendments:


USA: FDA proposes new rules on biotech-food (January 2001)

The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new rules for food derived through modern biotechnology. Amendments to existing rules would include a mandatory pre-market safety evaluation of genetically engineered foods. Although such pre-market evaluations are currently voluntary, all known commercialised biotech foods have been evaluated by the FDA.

Source: FDA, January 17, 2001