The results of the FAO survey on low levels of genetically modified (GM) crops in international food and feed trade

  • 01/03/2014
  • FAO

The increased production of genetically modified crops around the globe has led to a higher number of incidents of low levels of GMOs being detected in traded food and feed. The incidents have led to trade disruptions between countries with shipments of grain, cereal and other crops being blocked by importing countries and destroyed or returned to the country of origin. The trace amounts of GM crops become mixed with non-GM food and feed crops by accident during field production (for example, a field trial of a GM crop grown near a field of a non-GM crop), processing, packing, storage and transportation. There is no international agreement defining or quantifying "low level", therefore the interpretation varies from country to country. In many countries it is interpreted as any level at which detection is possible i.e. very low trace levels while in other countries case-by-case decisions are taken on what level is acceptable. The GM crop in question may be authorized for commercial use or sale in one or more countries but not yet authorized in an importing country. Therefore, if the importing country detects the unauthorized crop, it may be legally obliged to reject the shipment. In the first survey of its kind, 75 out of 193 FAO member countries responded to questions on low levels of GM crops in international food and animal feed trade.

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