Genetically Modified Foods (GM Foods)
GMO = Genetic Modified Organism
What is the Rieber Policy regarding use of materials from GMOs?
Rieber & Søn will not use genetically modified materials or materials which are of GMO origin. In the last passage of this page you will see raw materials that may be genetically modified. All our suppliers of such materials must give a written guarantee that they only supply materials from traditionally grown stocks. We are confident that we have control of this. As an extra safety measure, our authorities randomly and without prior notice sample our raw material warehouses. They analyse the samples to investigate if genetically modified materials exist in our raw materials.
Do we need genetically modified foods?
Genetic modification is a technique that has primarily been developed to increase yields in plant agriculture. The objective is to increase a plant’s defence against moulds, fungus, bacteria, viruses, insects and pests; to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and to increase yields. It is also possible to develop maize, grains and potatoes that tolerate frost or drought, thereby increasing usable agricultural land in areas where it was previously impossible to grow crops. In some parts of Africa, for example, close to 80% of the crop is destroyed every year. From a food supply perspective it is therefore important to evaluate the use of genetic modification in such areas. But from a nutritional and supply point of view in the western world, there is limited need for this technique in food production. However, the livestock feed sector will, in the near future, need genetically modified plants to secure sufficient proteins for animals.
What is genetic modification?
Genes (DNA’s) carry heredity from one generation to the next. All organisms and all foods contain genes. Through reproduction, the characteristics of the mother and father (or germen and pollen) are passed on to the next generation. By genetic modification we impose a change in DNA in such a way that future generations receive characteristics that the mother and father were not able to give them.
Modifications of microorganisms (bacteria, moulds, yeasts) have revolutionised the develop-ment of medicines which were previously difficult or expensive to produce in sufficient amounts.
Are genetically modified foods dangerous to health?
No. GMOs that are approved for food production have been through extensive medical research. There is still some uncertainty, however, concerning whether or not the new plants may cause new forms of allergy. Strong opposition against GMOs is caused mainly by the lack of research on their long-term influence in nature, particularly whether or not nature is able to cope with new genes when they are carried from agricultural fields into the wild by wind, water, insects, birds or animals. They may pollinate natural ‘relatives’ of farmed crops, leading to the un-controlled distribution of wild plants with new characteristics. There are also ethical and religious hesitations. Some argue that industry and research institutes play with life by manipulating genes, thereby changing nature or creation.
Is it permitted for genetically modified foods to be sold in Europe?
Yes. In the EU it is allowed to sell/trade a few specific GM foods, so long as the distributor labels them accordingly. Although the authorities allow it, however, many consumer organisations oppose it, greatly limiting the extent to which such materials have come into use. In Norway no GM foods have been approved yet. The Norwegian authorities have a two-step strategy. The country’s first regulation states that if you use a material of GMO origin, you must label it. The second regulation states that before you can use a GM material in Norway, it must be approved. No applications have been approved so far (April 2009).
Which foods may in the future become GM modified?
General attitudes and regulations are different in different parts of the world. In some countries such foods are widely produced (USA and China, for example). Other countries have very strict regulations, forbidding use. In the world market today, we find genetically modified varieties of soya, maize, rape seed, wheat, potatoes, tomatoes, cotton, sugar and chicory. We expect more to come.