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Unintended Effects of Genetic Manipulation
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Posted: April 2014

Detection of GMOs in Non-GM Food and Feed Imports

A growing number of grain- and fruit-importing countries have reported that small amounts of genetically modified (GM) crops have been detected in shipments of non-GM crops and feed. Responding to what appears to be a growing problem, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations sent out a survey in 2013 to its 193 member countries. Seventy five countries responded. The results of the survey have been made public: They reveal that 25 countries had detected such contaminated imports at the time of the survey. Often the contaminated non-GM crops and feed were destroyed, since the importing countries did not authorize the use of GM crops or feed. Other countries have no means to detect contamination, even though GM crops may not be allowed in the country.

Here is a brief summary of the survey’s findings (quoting the authors of the report):
  • respondents reported 198 incidents of low levels of GM crops mixed into non-GM crops between 2002 and 2012;
  • there was a jump in cases between 2009 and 2012, when 138 out of the 198 incidents were reported;
  • shipments with low levels of GM crops originated mainly from the US, Canada and China, although other countries also accidentally shipped such crops;
  • once detected, most shipments were destroyed or returned to the exporting country;
  • the highest number of incidents involved linseed, rice, maize and papaya.
The unintended effects include:
  • the contamination of food and feed supply by unwanted GM crops;
  • increased time, effort, and expenses in the importing country in order to monitor imports for GM contamination;
  • the added expense of destroying contaminated crops;
  • the loss of food and feed.
Source: Summary of Survey:
Survey Results:

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