Pesticide Safety Limit Raised by 200 Times 'To Suit GM Industry'; DAILY MAIL CAMPAIGN/GENETIC FOOD WATCH

Daily Mail (London), September 21, 1999 | Go to article overview

Pesticide Safety Limit Raised by 200 Times 'To Suit GM Industry'; DAILY MAIL CAMPAIGN/GENETIC FOOD WATCH


Byline: SEAN POULTER

THE limits on pesticide residues allowed in soya have been increased 200-fold to help the GM industry, according to one of the country's leading food safety experts.

Malcolm Kane, who has just taken early retirement as head of food safety at Sainsbury's, warned that higher levels of pesticide residues could appear in a range of foods from breakfast cereals to biscuits.

He raised concerns that although the toxin levels are low, there may be dangers associated with long-term consumption.

The claims were rejected by the Government's GM spin unit but are bound to fuel hostility to the tainted technology.

The fact that the warning comes from such a respected source is highly embarrassing for the Government and biotech firms.

Previously, UK and European rules stated that residues of the pesticide glyphosate left on a crop of soya beans should not be higher than 0.1 parts per million.

But according to Mr Kane, the Government has increased this figure by 200 times to 20 parts per million specifically to smooth the path of GM soya into the national diet.

The soya has been modified to withstand spraying by glyphosate - which is sold by the giant U.S. biotech firm Monsanto under the brand name Roundup.

This means it can be sprayed more heavily without any of the soya plants being harmed. But one negative result could be that higher residues of the chemical are left on the plant when it is harvested.

Mr Kane believes that rather than force the industry and farmers to meet the existing safety levels, officials have instead relaxed the rules to ensure GM crops remain legal.

While soya is sprayed with glyphosate, other crops, specifically maize or corn, have been manipulated to contain their own insecticides. These are designed to kill off pests which attack the plants so leading to bigger crops, but Mr Kane raises the possibility that these pesticides will also find their way into human food. A major loophole in the regulatory system means there is no way of monitoring or policing levels of pesticide which are effectively injected into plants through GM technology.

Mr Kane argues that the development of crops which are herbicide-resistant and pesticide-resistant was a major mistake by the biotech industry because these do not offer any benefits to consumer. …

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