For Immediate Release 15th February 1999
Enzymes from genetically modified micro-organisms could be used in processed foods as diverse as fish and meat products, soft drinks, biscuits, cakes and bread, which could add up to 90% of processed foodstuffs on supermarket shelves, GeneWatch said today (Monday 15 February).
In media interviews (1) and MPs briefings (2) in the past few days, the Government has stated that there are only four types of GM food sold in the UK tomato paste, vegetarian cheese, soya and maize. The Government included vegetarian cheese in the list because GM enzymes are used in making it. But thirteen other GM enzymes are also licensed for use across a broad range of processed foods (3, 4), including:
|Fish products||Meat products||Soft drinks|
|Egg products||Hard cheeses|
It is impossible to say exactly how many products have involved the use of enzymes from GM organisms because they are not labelled and recipes are commercially confidential.
"The Government has allowed the GM situation to get out of control." said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatchs Director. "No-one knows the true extent of GM in food, because so little of it is labelled or monitored. It could be used in up to 90% of processed foods in our supermarkets."
"By telling consumers that only four types of food are affected, the Government is misleading shoppers into thinking other forms of food are GM-free. Tony Blair says we must "proceed with very great care and caution and not get the facts mixed up" (5). GeneWatch believes the first step in this must be for the Government to publish the true facts about the full extent of the use of GM in foods" she added.
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Notes to Editors:
- For example, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, interviewed on the World at One on Friday 12th February 1999 and the Food Safety Minister, Jeff Rooker, talking on the Channel Four news on Wednesday 10th February 1999.
- MPs briefing Agriculture Latest from Rt Hon Nick Brown MP, MAFF. No 23. 10 February 1999. Safety of GM Foods. ".. there are four GM products on sale in the UK; tomato paste, vegetarian cheese, soya and maize".
- See table below of commercial enzymes from genetically modified microorganisms used in food production. Enzymes are used in food production for a variety of reasons to condition bread dough and improve crumb structure and colour for example. GM organisms have been altered so they produce a particular enzyme or more of it, using genes from different species of microogranism or, in the case of the chymosin used in cheese making, a gene from a calf stomach.
- Tony Blair, quoted in "Blair resists call for ban" p 10, The Times, Saturday February 13th
Key: Bake = Bakery; Bevr = Beverages (soft drinks, beer, wine); Cheese= cheese; Diet = Dietary food; Egg = egg; Fats = fats & oils; Fish = fish; Meat = meat; Sald = salads; Stch = cereal and starch; Sugr = sugar and honey.
|alpha-acetolactate decarboxylase||Bacillus amyloliquefaciens or subtilis||Bacillus sp||Bevr|
|alpha-amylase||Bacillus amyloliquefaciens or subtilis||Bacillus sp||Stch, Bevrs|
|Bacillus lichenformis||Bacillus sp||Stch, Frut, Bevr, Sugr, Bake|
|Catalase||Aspergillus niger||Aspergillus sp||Milk, Egg|
|Chymosin||Aspergillus niger var. awamori||Calf stomach||Cheese|
|Kluyveromyces lactis||Calf stomach||Cheese|
|Cyclodextrin-glucosyl transferase||Bacillus lichenformis||Thermoanbacter sp||Stch|
|Beta-glucanase||Bacillus amyloliquefaciens or subtilis||Bacillus sp||Stch, Bevr|
|Tricoderma reesei or longibrachiatum||Trichoderma sp||Stch, Diet|
|Glucose isomerase||Streptomyces lividans||Actioplanes sp||Stch|
|Streptomyces rubiginosus||Streptomyces sp||Stch|
|Glucose oxidase||Aspergillus niger||Aspergillus sp||Egg, Bevr, Bake, Sald|
|Hemicellulase||Bacillus amyloliquefaciens or subtilis||Bacillus sp||Bake|
|Lipase, triacylglycerol||Aspergillus niger|| Candida sp
|Maltogenic amylase||Bacillus amyloliquefaciens or subtilis||Bacillus sp||Stch, Bevr, Bake|
|Protease||Aspergillus oryzae||Rhizomucor sp||Cheese|
|Bacillus amyloliquefaciens or subtilis||Bacillus sp||Meat, Fish, Stch, Bevr, Bake|
|Bacillus lichenformis||Bacillus sp||Meat, Fish|
|Pullulanase||Bacillus lichenformis||Bacillus sp||Stch|
|Klebsiella planticola||Klebsiella sp||Stch, Bavr, Bake|
|Xylanase||Aspergillus niger var. awamori||Aspergillus sp||Bake|
|Aspergillus niger||Aspergillus sp||Stch, Bevr, Bake|
|Bacillus amyloliquefaciens or subtilis||Bacillus sp||Stch, Bevr, Bake|
|Bacillus lichenformis||Bacillus sp||Stch|
|Tricoderma reesei or longibrachiatum||Trichoderma sp||Stch, Bevr, Bake|
These enzymes are used to treat these ingredients for use in a processed food product.