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Test question slows Nesquik suit
( 2004-01-19 09:04) (eastday.com)

The Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court began hearing a local woman's lawsuit against Nestle and Shanghai Lianjia Supermarket Co yesterday for producing and selling genetically modified food without informing consumers.

But the case could be delayed as scientists argue over which tests to use to decide if Nestle's Nesquik brand instant chocolate drink contains GM ingredients.

Zhu Yanling, 32, says she bought a package of Nesquik for her son from the Gubei outlet of Carrefour, which is managed by Lianjia, on March 27, 2003. Later, she read that the product contains GM ingredients, a claim Nestle denies.

She accused Nestle of fraudulence and violating her right to know if its products contain GM ingredients. Zhu asked the court to order the company to label the drink as a GM food and award her 13.6 yuan (US$1.64) in compensation, twice the amount she spent on the instant drink.

The court asked a biological test center run by the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences to test the product for GM ingredients.

However, the center came up with two contrary conclusions after conducting a pair of tests.

Following the standard test for GM foods laid down by the Ministry of Agriculture last May, scientists didn't find any GM substances in the drink. But when they conducted a test they designed themselves - which they say is more advanced - the scientists uncovered a small amount of GM ingredients.

Zhu's attorney, Wu Dong, says the new, more-accurate test should be used in court, but admits it could take a long time for the government to set proper standards on how the test is conducted.

Complicating matters is the fact that the Ministry of Agriculture has only recommended its test and has not stipulated that it is the only test that can be used to find GM substances.

The court hasn't said when it can reach a verdict in the case.

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