BRUSSELS, Belgium - Friends of the Earth claimed that UK and Danish supermarkets are carrying food containing illicit GM ingredients.

The environmentalist organization said its tests have revealed samples of Phileas Fogg Tortilla Chips, Kims Zapatas Tortilla Chips and own-brand tortilla chips sold by Asda and Safeway contained an ingredient from a genetically modified organism not authorized for sale in the European Union - Monsanto GM maize (GA21).

"That is a clear breach of the EU legal framework on GMOs and shows that biotech companies are not able to avoid the introduction of illegal genetically modified ingredients in the EU food shelves," said Gill Lacroix, biotechnology coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe. "It is clear that a complete system of traceability based on proper segregation is needed to avoid contamination of food and uphold consumer choice. Illegal foods should be removed from the shelves and biotech companies should be made liable for their products. The responsibility for marketing the illegal GM foods should fall on their shoulders."

Aventis' GM Maize Comes Under Fire

Scientific research backing an application for GM maize to be commercially sold to farmers is "inadequate," a public hearing in the UK was told on Friday. Scientists from the University of Bristol's Department of Clinical Veterinary Science told a government hearing on seeds that nutrition tests on chickens, presented by Aventis, are "inadequate in terms of providing any evidence or conclusions. It is not of a standard that would be acceptable for publication in a scientific journal."

Concerns also were raised about "suspicious" higher death rates among chickens that ate the GM maize during the study. Steve Kestin and Toby Knowles, scientists working on chicken studies for the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, peer reviewed the Aventis study at the request of Friends of the Earth, and they concluded there was either a fault in the study or the results should have acted as a spur for further investigation.

Tony Juniper, policy and campaigns director at Friends of the Earth, said, "Once again the 'sound science' of the biotech industry has been found sadly wanting. This shoddy study should never have been submitted to support the case for this GM maize to be granted a commercial license. It's high time the cozy and unquestioning relationship between the biotechnology industry and government was ended."

Workshop Focuses On Biotech and Aging

The role of biotechnology in meeting health-care challenges posed by demographic change is at the heart of a workshop next week held by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on healthy aging and biotechnology.

The workshop will explore the scientific and health-care policy issues facing governments as biotechnologies create new ways to detect, prevent, and treat age-related diseases and conditions. OECD said biotechnology offers revolutionary techniques for reducing age-related disabilities, through immunizations and neuronal transplants for Alzheimer's disease, growth hormones to combat frailty, and gene therapies for cancer.

"Because of advances in biotechnology, we not only better understand the aging process itself, but we are creating new medical interventions which will hopefully provide more efficient alternatives for the promotion of healthy aging," OECD said.