EFSA reaffirms safety of Monsanto rapeseed oil

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Canola, Rapeseed

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reaffirmed the safety of Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) GT73 oilseed rape, stating that it is unlikely to have a detrimental effect on human or animal health or the environment when used for food and feed uses.

EFSA was asked by the European Commission to assess the impact on human and animal health as well as the environment from the renewal of two applications covering the continued marketing of existing food produced from oilseed rape GT73 (refined oil and food additives) and existing feed materials and feed additives produced from it.

Crop cultivation does not fall under the scope of this approval.

The GMO panel at the Parma-based agency found that there “is no new information provided by the applicant or in the scientific literature that would require changes of its previous scientific opinion on oilseed rape GT73,"​ and, thus, it reiterated its 2004 conclusions that GM oilseed rape GT73 “is unlikely to have an adverse effect”​ on human and animal health and on the environment.

The Panel said, in delivering its opinion, it also took into account comments submitted by member states, and that the new data in the application included bioinformatic analyses using updated databases which confirmed that no relevant similarities exist between the newly expressed proteins and known allergens and toxic proteins.

It added that information provided by Monsanto showed food and feed products produced from oilseed rape GT73, which have been approved in the EU, have been consumed without reports of adverse effects.

And the food safety agency said that scientific publications, which have become available since the previous evaluation of oilseed rape GT73 by the EFSA GMO Panel “did not raise safety issues.”

Food uses

Oilseed rape, also known as rapeseed oil or canola, is one of the healthiest edible oils in a diet, since it has an extremely low level of saturated fatty acids. It also has many other industrial and cosmetic uses, such as in suntan oil.

The major food use of canola in North America and Europe is for refined oil. Typically, canola oil is used by itself as a salad oil or cooking oil, or blended with other vegetable oils in the manufacture of margarine, shortenings, cooking and salad oils.

Canola meal, a byproduct of the oil production process, is added to livestock feed rations.

GM labelling

Meanwhile, a recent UK report claims that consumers think that current labelling regulation for GM foods is inadequate.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency commissioned a report from independent researchers at the National Centre for Social Research. A combination of surveys, workshops and in-depth interviews were used to explore consumer attitudes to GM foods, as well as how those attitudes are formed.

The report found that consumers think labels should flag all GM processes in foods, including products produced using GM technology or animals fed GM animal feed, which do not currently have to be labelled.

“This study found that existing labelling of food is considered inconsistent and confusing,”​ the report said. “For example, people reported that the labelling of some foods as ‘non-GM’ or ‘GM-free’ had led them to believe that GM ingredients were widely used in other products.”

And the review noted that most UK consumers are either undecided or opposed to GM foods, and most are mistrustful of information sources on the subject.

Related topics: Europe, Safety, Regulation, Grains

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