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Flaws in Testing

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Serious flaws in the product testing system for genetically engineered (GE) foods have been discovered in the U.

Serious flaws in the product testing system for genetically engineered (GE) foods have been discovered in the UK.

The results of an investigation by the government Food Analysis Performance Assessment Scheme (FAPAS) find that 20 per cent of laboratories failed to recognise the presence of GE organisms in their analyses.

European laws on the labelling of GE food were introduced last year. These laws stipulate that ingredients containing soy, maize or their derivatives with levels of genetically engineered material higher than one per cent must be labelled clearly.

The laboratories checked by FAPAS are commissioned by retailers to test their products before they go onto supermarket shelves. The labs were sent samples of soy flour and soy isolate, containing different levels of genetically engineered organisms. Both are used commonly as binding agents in pastry, chocolate, cakes, sauces and ready-made meals. However, the report finds that although the laboratories are required to quantify accurately the level of GE material present in the products, the FAPAS analysis of results from more than 80 labs in 19 European countries revealed widely varying determinations. One group of scientists found GE levels 12 times higher than their colleagues.

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