A GM cereal sold in Tesco supermarkets in the UK reportedly made a child hyperactive (item 1 below).
This is a good time to remind everyone about the speaking tour of the UK next week by the researcher Prof Gilles-Eric Seralini and the Danish pig farmer Ib Pedersen, who have plenty to say about the safety - or otherwise - of GM food.
Events will be held in London, Edinburgh, Newport, and Manchester. In some cases you need to book; with others, you just turn up. Details here: http://www.gmhealthriskweek.org/featured-events/
- On sale in Tesco, GM cereal that makes children hyperactive
- TAKE ACTION: Tell Tesco it's not acceptable to market GM foods to children
- List of known GM food products on sale in UK supermarkets
On sale in Tesco, GM cereal that makes children hyperactive
U.S. import of Lucky Charms contain artificial colours that UK watchdog urges manufacturers to avoid
- Imported Lucky Charms can have adverse effects on children's behaviour
- It is marketed as nutritious, but contains four suspect colourings
A Frankenstein food breakfast cereal designed for children and packed with additives linked to bad behaviour and hyperactivity is being sold in Britain.
Lucky Charms, which is imported from the US, is the first mainstream GM food to go on sale in this country.
The cereal, which is being sold by Tesco, is at the vanguard of what GM advocates hope will be numerous products to arrive in kitchens here. Its use of genetically modified corn is buried in small print on the package.
GM corn has been eaten in the US for more than a decade. However, critics of the technology argue that not enough research has been carried out to ensure these foods are safe.
Most GM corn plants have been modified in the laboratory to contain a toxin that kills pests that feed on them.
Potentially more alarming is the fact that the cereal contains a number of artificial colours that the Food Standards Agency urges manufacturers not to use because research found a possible association with hyperactivity in young children.
Lucky Charms is marketed as a nutritious cereal for children, but contains four suspect colourings – Tartrazine, Sunset Yellow, Brilliant Blue, and Allura Red.
Tesco bans the use of GM ingredients from its own-label foods, including breakfast cereals, on the basis that British families have rejected the technology.
However, this ban does not apply to other brands and the store has also lifted its ban on the use of GM animal feed at farms that supply meat, milk, and eggs.
General Mills, which makes Lucky Charms, points to its wholegrain content and describes the mix of corn, soya, sugar, and marshmallow as "magically delicious".
However, one father said Tesco was "letting customers down" by selling it.
Paul Stevenson, a psychotherapist from Twickenham, south-west London, said his nine-year-old son Arthur became "very giddy", talked incessantly, and was extremely hyperactive after eating the cereal, which Tesco is selling at a premium price of £5 a box.
"As his behaviour became more and more unusually hyper and lacking attention I then noticed that he was enthusiastically eating and talking about this new cereal called Lucky Charms," said Mr Stevenson.
"I checked the box and found out that in very small lettering it said that it was a GM food.
"I destroyed the packet and he calmed down the next day but I was very concerned and angry."
It seems likely that the adverse reaction was caused by the suspect colours. There is a smallprint warning on the pack that the cereal may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.
Mr Stevenson said the cereal was on prominent display at the local Tesco and is sold in a packet that is "extremely attractive to little kids".
Pete Riley, of campaign group GM Freeze, called on customers to boycott Tesco. "The idea of promoting a cereal to children that is not only GM but also contains suspect colours does not seem to me to be the correct policy for a company that claims to be a responsible retailer," he said.
General Mills said it does not supply the cereal to UK stores and that Tesco had ordered its supplies from a third party importer.
The supermarket said in a statement: "We sell this branded product as part of our world foods range. The product ingredients are clearly labelled and are in line with relevant legislation."
2. GM Freeze action: Tell Tesco it's not acceptable to market GM foods to children
Quick and easy action: http://www.gmfreeze.org/actions/40/
• Hershey's Nutrageous chocolate bars (Tesco/from January 2009, Sainsbury's/from March 2009)
• Pride cooking oil (Tesco, Coop/from January 2007, Sainsbury's/from February 2008)
• Schwartz Seasoned Salad Topping (Sainsbury's/from March 2009)
• General Mills Bacos Bacon Flavour Soya chips (Tesco and Morrisons/March 2009)
• OSEM cream crackers (Kosher) (Morrison's, July 2011)
• OSEM sesame cracker (Kosher) (Waitrose, March 2012)
• KTC oil (Asda, July 2012)
• General Mills Lucky Charms cereal (Tesco, August 2013)