- LONDON (Reuters) - European
measures to combat the spread of mad cow disease could open the gates to
a new food scare if genetically-modified soymeal replaces ground carcasses
in animal feed, UK environmentalists said on Wednesday.
- A ban by the European Union (EU) on all meat and bone
meal in animal feed blamed for the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE) in cattle has sparked panic buying of soymeal and may force food
producers to turn to GM versions.
- ``We're just replacing one set of questions with another
set of questions,'' Andy Tait, a campaigner at environmental group Greenpeace,
- ``Nobody has any idea what the long term impact of feeding
GM soymeal to animals will be, rather like no one had any idea what the
long term impact of feeding meat and bone meal to animals would be. It's
a risk we really cannot afford to take again.''
- European officials have said the ban would force producers
to source a shortfall of between 2.15 to 2.2 million tons of soybean meal
from the U.S., where GM crops are widely planted.
- More than 90 percent of Argentina's soy crop, the world's
third largest, is of the genetically-modified Roundup Ready variety, traders
in Buenos Aires said earlier this month.
- A slew of food safety scares has turned public opinion
against GM crops, despite government reassurances on their safety, with
many consumers calling for clear labeling of meat from animals fed with
- ``We would appeal to companies when they are sourcing
soya, to actually source non-GM soya. There is a bulk quantity of non-GM
soya available and it's extremely important they source segregated non-GM
Soya for their meat,'' Tait said, adding that much U.S. soymeal is unsegregated.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth said a move to genetically modified
feed proved countries had yet to learn the ''BSE lesson''.
- ``We should learn from the BSE crisis and stop messing
around with the food we feed to both animals and human beings,'' Adrian
Ebb, a campaigner from Friends of the Earth, said.
- He said UK supermarkets and food manufacturers had begun
to listen to the public's demand for non-GM meat. In a recent poll, 63
percent of Britain's shoppers said they wanted supermarkets to drop GM
ingredients from animal feed.
- ``Supermarkets and food manufacturers have listened and
are now promising to do just this,'' Ebb said.
- ``It would be outrageous if as a result of BSE even more
GM food was imported into this country.''
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