Consultation on trade disruptions due to low level GM in ostensibly GM-free food

Several countries have asked the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation to organise an international dialogue on the issue of trade disruptions involving low levels of GM crops in ostensibly GM free food.

In Rome on 20-21 March 2014 there will be a Technical Consultation on Low Levels of Genetically Modified (GM) Crops in International Food and Feed Trade, intended to facilitate a common understanding of the issue, not to reach policy agreements..

un survey gm trade disruption cover.

In 2013, FAO sent a questionnaire to member countries to gather information on the extent and nature of problems incurred with low levels of GM in traded commodities. 75 countries responded to the questionnaire and a report summarizing and analyzing the response to the questionnaire has been prepared and will be presented at the Consultation as a basis for discussion. On page 23 of the survey the issue was summarised:

“There is ongoing disruption to trade due to asychronous authorizations between EU and third countries. The current “tolerance” of < 0.1% under Reg 619/2011 is inadequate to facilitate trade between third countries and the EU. Trade problems are likely to increase in future, as more GM events enter the pipeline, giving rise to more frequent incidents of asynchronous authorizations and rejection of (maize) consignments Ireland from US.

“After the notification, consignments already imported into Japan were tested and those found positive were shipped back. After the above phase, import became acceptable only when consignments for Japan were tested and certified to be free of Bt10”.

Sustainable Pulse, owned and maintained by a group of concerned citizens and scientists, highlights the finding that there was an increase in cases between 2009 and 2012, when 138 out of the 198 incidents were reported; shipments with low levels of GM crops originated mainly from the US, Canada and China, although other countries also accidentally shipped such crops; once detected, most shipments were destroyed or returned to the exporting country; the highest number of incidents involved linseed, rice, maize and papaya. It reported that Renata Clarke, FAO Senior Food Safety Officer said:

“In the survey, countries also asked us to help them assess whether GM crops are safe to eat and we would like to see countries sharing any scientific findings they have on the subject. For this purpose, FAO established FAO GM Foods Platform, a web page for countries to share information on safety assessment.” The platform can be accessed at


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