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Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 23:49 GMT
Council opens GM-detector lab

GM lab The lab is the first of its kind in Scotland

Edinburgh Council has become the first Scottish local authority to open a laboratory dedicated to testing for genetically-modified food.

Scientists will check on products from the capital's cafes, shops and restaurants to see if they are complying with new rules that say foodstuffs containing GM products must be labelled.

The hope is that the 20,000 unit will pay for itself by testing for private companies and other Scottish councils.

Taking a hard-line

The outlets found to be selling unmarked GM products could face a fine of up to 5,000.

Mike Drewry, director of Edinburgh's environmental department, stressed the authority would take a hard line on those who flout the legislation.

He said: "Until now we have not had the facilities to test these products.


If we find people who are flouting the laws then we will be reporting them and they could face a fine
Mike Drewry, Edinburgh Council
"But what we will be doing is taking samples of food unannounced from restaurants and cafes through our environmental health officers.

"If we find people who are flouting the laws then we will be reporting them and they could face a fine."

Edinburgh Councillor Brian Fallon believes the testing would reassure customers they are making informed choices about GM produce for the first time.

Public assurances

He said: "It is very important that the public are assured and protected to the best of our ability and this facility will allow us to do that.

"People are entitled to their choice as to whether they wish to eat genetically-modified products or not.

"This gives them that choice, and they are entitled to that choice."

The laboratory test will involve extracting the DNA from food samples and identifying the presence of genetically-modified organisms.

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See also:
05 Nov 99 |  Sci/Tech
GM crops ban extended
18 Oct 99 |  Sci/Tech
Ministers 'ignoring public' on GM food
21 Oct 99 |  Sci/Tech
GM crops have 'significant snags'
22 Oct 99 |  Sci/Tech
Health risks reduced by GM corn
27 Oct 99 |  UK
Government 'U-turn' on GM crops

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