Germany: Biotech Foods ''Conquer'' Supermarkets

BERLIN, Germany -- A German government backed consumer foundation has reported that over one-third of food products it tested contained either genetically modified (GM) soya or maize (corn).

Three had a GM content over the one percent threshold that should require specific labelling, but had no such labels, the German Consumer Foundation, Stiftung Warentest, said.

Published on Thursday in Berlin, the findings showed that 31 of the 82 products tested were not GM free but had a content of less than one percent.

However, the finger was pointed at an American pancake mix, "Bisquick Shake'n Pour," a tofu ice-cream from the Netherlands called Tofutti, and a confectionary bar from the UK, "SIS Science in Sport Go Bar."

The pancake mix contained up to five GM products at levels of up to 20 percent.

The consumer group claims that GM foods are "conquering" supermarkets. It has called for the threshold over which GM ingredients have to be identified on food packaging labels to be reduced to 0.5 percent and for the national government to hold back on the planting of GM crops.

The Foundation regularly establishes which products and services people readers wish to be informed about by including questionnaires in a number of magazines. Stiftung Warentest publishes its own monthly magazines "test," and "FINANZtest" reporting on the results of its product testing.

Primarily for cost reasons, the Foundation does not have its own laboratories but instead commissions independent specialist institutes both in Germany and abroad to carry out the tests.

In April, European Commission food experts decided that food producers would have to indicate the presence of GM products if the content exceeded one percent in order to facilitate a common European labelling system and greater transparency by food producers.

Last July, after Greenpeace protests in front of the Rewe headquarters in Cologne, Germany, the second German biggest supermarket chain announced that they would no longer use genetically modified ingredients for their own-brand products. A Rewe spokesperson said they also found suppliers for GM free soya lecithin which is used in cookies or chocolate.

In March 1999, several major European retailers, including Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer in the UK, Carrefour in France, Superquinn in Ireland, Migros in Switzerland, Delhaize in Belgium and Esselunga in Italy, formed a consortium to jointly source GM free products.

AMP Section Name:Food and Agriculture
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