The West P&I Club has reproduced an article written by Dr. Tim Moss and Dr. Daniel Sheard of Brookes Bell entitled “Contamination with GMO Cargo – What can be done?”. The article discusses the science behind GMO crops, along with the ramifications of being found to have GMO contaminated cargo onboard. It also looks at the practical measures that can be taken to prevent a cargo becoming contaminated and to prevent the spoilage of a cargo that has been rejected due to GMO contamination.
Problems for the carrier may arise due to traces of GMO crops being found in a subsequent cargo due to ineffective cargo hold cleaning, and the cargo is rejected at the discharge port, or where a cargo found to contain GMO remains onboard the vessel for an extended period before it is possible for it to be discharged, and the condition of the cargo begins to deteriorate.
So what Can Be Done?
As an innocent party, ship owners can be complacent in these cases, but vessels have been implicated in the problem for:
1) Cross-contamination from previous cargoes
2) Spoilage of cargoes that have been on board for an extended period
The first issue can only be dealt with by being extra vigilant as a matter of course. Following carriage of cargo from a GMO or suspected GMO crop, make sure the holds are fully cleaned and take photos to show this. Make sure the hold inspectors in the next port are doing their job properly: take photos of them in the holds and make sure approvals/certificates are clearly written. Even if there are non-sensitive cargoes between these precautions are recommended. The chances of a residual GMO cargo contaminating the following cargo are remote but there is a chance it could happen or at least the chance a spot sample typically taken by authorities will pick up the GMO.
Cereal and seed cargoes have a shelf life and it is likely they will eventually spoil from mould growth after an extended period in storage. In this case, shippers might attempt to recoup losses by blaming the vessel for not looking after the cargo properly. The shippers might also claim that the cargo could not possibly be GMO contaminated and allege it was an unrelated condition that resulted in the cargo being rejected.
during or following a long delay as a result of a GMO related cargo rejection – that competent surveyors or experts are instructed to monitor and record the condition of the cargo during offloading.
good representative samples are taken of the cargo, preferably jointly with other parties, so that the presence of the GMO and the real reason for the rejection can be established objectively.
The article can be read in full here: Contamination-with-gmo-cargo-what-can-be-done