from RT.com: The Saudi Arabian food chain has been widely contaminated with GM
ingredients, according to a new study. The findings include
controversial StarLink maize banned for human consumption in the US over
ten years ago.
The study published in the journal Applied Biochemistry and
Biotechnology earlier this month found that genetically modified
StarLink maize, allowed for domestic animal feed only in the US,
has been contaminating Saudi Arabian products.
StarLink is a trade mark for a type of GM maize manufactured by
Aventis Crop Science at the time when it was going through the
American apparatus. Later it was bought by
Back in 1998 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
approved the maize for domestic animal feed only, so the company
manufacturing StarLink decided not to apply for separate approval
for human and animal consumption.
Nevertheless, residues of StarLink maize were detected in taco
shells in September 2000, indicating that it had entered the
human food chain.
Following the findings all genetically modified food was recalled
causing widespread disruption to the corn markets in 2000 and
Aventis then withdrew its registration for StarLink maize
varieties in October 2000 and promised it would no longer be
Despite these assurances, aid sent by the UN World Food Program
and the US to a number of Central American nations was found to
be highly contaminated with StarLink corn. 80% of the 50 samples
tested came back positive for StarLink maize and Guatemala,
Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador were all compelled to refuse
the aid, according to the journal Green Med.
In 2005 Saudi Arabia approved the import of GM food, but banned
the import and agricultural use of genetically modified animals,
their byproducts and GM seeds, dates and decorative plants. The
law also stipulated that any product containing GM material was
required to be labeled in both Arabic and English.
In the 2013 study, 200 samples were collected from the Saudi
Arabian provinces of Al-Qassim, Riyadh and Mahdina between 2009
and 2010 and were screened for GM ingredients. 26% of soybean
samples were positive for GM gene sequences, while 44% of maize
samples came out positive for GM gene sequences.
The overall findings pointed to a discovery of more than 1%
contamination of maize samples with StarLink maize, as according
to the detection sensitivity of the test kits used in the
research the likelihood of a false positive reading is extremely
The authors of the report conclude that “establishing strong
regulations and certified laboratories to monitor GM foods or
crops in the Saudi Market is recommended.”
An earlier study published in the African Journal of Food Science
in 2010 also found that the food chain in Saudi Arabia had been
contaminated with GM ingredients.
The study analyzed 202 samples of mainly imported food, which was
sampled from local markets in Ridyadh. Of the 202 samples 20
tested positive for GM ingredients.
The authors of the 2013 finding raise questions of why GM corn,
banned in the US is resurfacing in a distant country like Saudi
Arabia. They also question the level of contamination in the US,
considering the fact the labeling and import of GM products is
more stringent in Saudi Arabia than in the states.
“Mandatory labeling of GM-containing products and/or a total
boycott of manufactures who are not already complying with this
objective, or do not already have plans to do so in the immediate
future,” the study concludes.