Select Committee on European Communities Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 1

A GUIDE TO . . . SAFEWAY DOUBLE CONCENTRATED TOMATO PUREE PRODUCED FROM GENETICALLY MODIFIED TOMATOES

  In selected stores Safeway is selling tomato puree produced from genetically modified tomatoes (170g tins only). This leaflet has been produced to explain more about the product and the benefits it brings.

IMPROVED FOODS

  Ever since farming began, man has looked for ways of producing and growing new and improved crops, selecting those with the best characteristics to produce the wide range of foods available today. Biotechnology is the term we use to describe these processes of selection and crossing to improve our food, and many of the foods we enjoy and take for granted are, in fact, the result of biotechnology. Products such as beer, cheese, salami, pickles, yogurt, soy sauce, bread, vinegar, wine and cider all rely on the processes of traditional biotechnology.

NEW TOMATO PUREEWHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

  These traditional processes can be slow and somewhat hit and miss. For example, it can take flower breeders 10 or more years of trial and error to produce flowers with a particular petal colour. The processes of modern biotechnology which have been used to produce our new tomato puree go simply one stage further. Instead of a process of trial and error in developing new crops, scientists can now precisely identify individual genes and modify them. The use of genetic modification means that specific changes can be made to food crops, both quickly and precisely, without making other undesired changes. This was very difficult to achieve previously.

EXCELLENT TASTE, LESS WASTE

  Scientists have now identified the gene that makes tomatoes turn soft during ripening, and they've also found a way of switching the gene off. This means that the tomatoes can be left to ripen on the plant until they have their full flavour and colour, while previously they would have been harvested earlier. These genetically modified tomatoes with the softening gene "switched off" remain firm after harvesting, providing greater flexibility during transport and handling, with reduced wastage. As less tomatoes go to waste, best use is made of water, a scarce commodity in California where the tomatoes are grown. In addition as the tomatoes contain less water, less energy is used during processing. Together, these improvements mean that Safeway's tomato puree, made from genetically modified tomatoes, is available at a reduced price in comparison to puree made from conventional tomatoes.

IS IT SAFE?

  The law requires that foods produced using genetic modification are subject to extensive review and approval by a number of committees of independent experts who ensure that the strict guidelines and legislation in force are adhered to. The tomato puree produced from genetically modified tomatoes on sale in Safeway stores has been reviewed and approved for sale in the UK, and is perfectly safe to eat.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

  Free leaflets which explain in more detail the processes of biotechnology and genetic modification are available from a number of organisations.

"Food for our Future—Food and Biotechnology" from:

External Relations

Food and Drink Federation

6 Catherine Street

London WC2B 5JJ

Tel 0171 836 2460

Fact Sheets from:

Institute of Grocery Distribution

Grange Lane, Letchmore Heath

Watford WD2 8DQ

Tel 01923 857141

"Genetic Modification and Food" reference no. PB2052, A MAFF "Foodsense" leaflet from:

MAFF Publications

London SE99 7TP

Tel 0645 556000




 
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