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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

FSA GMO Sampling Plans Ignore Vital Research Freeze Calls for Consultation to be Withdrawn

Immediate release (27 Jul 2007)

Calls to: Pete Riley, Campaigns Director, 07903 341 065

GM Freeze is calling for the Food Standards Agency to withdraw a consultation on sampling food and feed for GM content because it ignores important new research published by Defra earlier in the year.

The research [1] shows that previous methods for sampling bulk cargoes of soya beans, which assumed that any GM presence was evenly distributed in the cargoes, were flawed and in fact GM hot spots were just as likely to occur. These hot spots could be missed if samples were taken at regular intervals rather than randomly. The report concluded:

Our findings document the presence of spatial patterns in all the investigated lots, proving that the most widely used sampling protocols based on the assumption of normality, will lead to non-representative samples, and, as a consequence, to wrong and unreliable analytical results. Indeed, if sampling is not performed in a correct and hence representative way, there is no reason to carry out the sampling at all. (emphasis ours)

Earlier in the year GM Freeze sent the FSA a report on the risk of GM contamination of different food and feed imports [2] in which they specifically called for, “The EC’s Reference Laboratory to develop legally binding sampling protocols to ensure that GM contents in cargoes can be assessed with the highest possible certainty.”

The FSA’s consultation [3] issued this week seeks the views of stakeholders and the public on methods for sampling food and feed for determining GM presence. The advice of sampling in the consultation is based on EC guidance from 2004 [4] and takes no account of the important new findings published by Defra in January 2007.

GM contamination of maize and rice cargoes entering the EU has taken place regularly during the last few years [5].

Commenting for GM Freeze, Pete Riley said:

This is yet another example of the laissez faire attitude of the FSA to GM contamination and the need for accurate product labelling. It is very disappointing that the FSA has failed to include the important new findings on how GM is distributed in the huge boat loads that transport soya, maize and rice into the EU. They need to re-issue the consultation to reflect this research. It’s time the FSA came under Parliamentary scrutiny and is called to account before we end up with a major GM contamination incident involving GM pharmaceutical crops.


Calls to: Pete Riley, Campaigns Director, 07903 341 065.

[1] See

[2] See the GM Freeze report here.

[3] Guidance note for sampling food and feed to determine the presence of genetically modified (GM) material (see

[4] See

[5] The following GM contamination incidents have been recorded in the EU since 2005:

  • 2004 unauthorised GM papaya from Hawaii found in Germany
  • 2005 maize from USA unapproved Bt10 present
  • 2006 long grain rice from USA unapproved LL601
  • 2006 rice from China unapproved Bt genes
  • 2007 maize from the USA unapproved Herculex Rw