|24 December 2018
THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear Friends and Colleagues
Antibiotic-Resistant GE Bacteria in Animal Feed Spreading Across Europe
The European Union (EU) is currently facing the biggest case of uncontrolled spread of non-approved genetically engineered (GE) organisms in its history: viable bacteria with a four-fold resistance to antibiotics, of which three are due to genetic engineering, have been found in animal feed products.
The feed additive is distributed via a huge feed company in the EU and is believed to be produced in China. The GE bacteria are meant to produce Vitamin B2 (riboflavin). The specific feed additives were declared safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2014, and were not supposed to contain any viable genetically engineered bacteria. However, the first findings of the microbes were reported in Belgium in the same year.
It took EFSA until March 2018 to publish a report which concluded that the GE bacteria posed substantial risks to health and the environment. In September 2018, the EU Commission ruled that the affected animal feed products had to be removed from the EU market by 10 November, but also allowed a transitional period until mid-2019 for this to happen.
The EU Commission and EU member states could have but failed to take action earlier, after the first reports appeared in 2014. Testbiotech states that as a result of this delay, the GE bacteria were able to spread for several years in animal farming environments, and also pass their resistance on to other disease-causing microbes, causing a massive non-approved release of genetically engineered organisms in the EU.
With best wishes,