GM Contamination Register
Genewatch and Greenpeace have, for about 10 years, run a GM Contamination Register (www.contaminationregister.org). We have analysed the cases on the Register and a resulting paper has now (this week) been published in a journal (attached). It's an open access journal so no problems with copyright.
The GM Contamination Register database contains cases dating back to 1997 (the start of GE crops). We have nearly 400 cases (to the end of 2013). We analysed the cases by crop and by country (some graphs and tables). Finally, we focussed on cases of contamination arising from unauthorised GM crops (i.e. those without any authorization for commercial growing anywhere in the world).
I hope the paper makes a useful reference for these GM contamination cases. The main points are:
1) GM contamination happens.
2) GM contamination from field trials/illegal plantings happens – we have 9 cases of GM contamination of unauthorized (non-commercialised) GE crops that haven’t undergone any environmental or food safety analysis.
3) GM rice tops the league table of contamination cases by crop, accounting for about a third of cases. This is despite the fact that there is no GM rice grown anywhere in the world. We suggest the high rate of GM contamination might be related to routine testing of imports of GM rice at national borders.
4) Once GM contamination has happened, it can be difficult to contain it. E.g. GM papaya, GM Chinese rice (but US LLrice appears to have stopped – for now at least).
5) From these data, it’s not clear what the main factors affecting contamination rates are. It’s not only the GM contamination itself (x-pollination, mix ups etc.) that contributes to the number of cases, but also the the testing regime (both routine and targeted). The highest rates of contamination are in imported foodstuffs to Germany but this is probably because they do a lot of testing! All EU countries have high rates because they report their findings of the RASFF database. We have the data for contamination – but not the factors to analyse what influences contamination!
6) Finally, although (of course) field trials of GM crops shouldn’t happen, the fact that for most (all?) of these experiments there is no protocol for testing available, makes detection of any GM contamination difficult, if not impossible.
Janet Cotter (Greenpeace) and Becky Price (Genewatch)