Switzerland's agriculture ministry has announced the discovery of genetically modified organisms (GMO), in organic animal feed. Meat from animals fed on the contaminated fodder was then sold under an organic label by Switzerland's two main food retailers, Migros and Coop.
The agriculture ministry spokesman, Jürg Jordi, confirmed the report in the Swiss newspaper, "SonntagsZeitung". Jordi said that 17 per cent of the soja in the animal feed was genetically modified.
While genetically modified soja is not illegal in Switzerland, the legal limit for animal feed to be certified as organic is three per cent.
The inspection on the soja was carried out in February, following a request from the company producing the feed, Nafag. The company initially ordered a test from a laboratory in canton Fribourg which showed its feed contained only 1.7 per cent of GMOs.
It is unclear why Nafag then asked for a second analysis.
Farmers working for Coop and Migros received over 1000 tonnes of contaminated organic feed from the company based in Gossau. Coop and Migros have asked Nafag to collect the leftover fodder, which is to be destroyed.
The affair represents a loss of more than SFr1 million for farmers, who will have to sell their animals at a lower price than that obtained for organic animals.
But Nafag has no intention of covering the loss, because it holds the laboratory in canton Fribourg responsible.
A law introduced in 1999 requires that all food containing more than one per cent of GMOs must be labelled.
swissinfo with agencies