22 May 1998
EU to finalise GM labelling regulations

THE European Commission will finalise its regulations over the next few weeks on the labelling of foods made with genetically modified (GM) soya and maize.

The Commission was forced into an embarrassing climbdown this week on GM labelling after EU member states refused to support its stricter guidelines.

Under the revised labelling system, manufacturers will only be required to label products if they have been proved to contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The Commission is now in grave danger of introducing a system that appeals to no one after consumer groups, environmentalists and some manufacturers denounced the changes.

Greenpeace estimates the proposals would mean that more than 90% of GM food would not require labelling. This weeks EC compromise established the principle of forming a list of products which could be exempt from testing. It also proposed a threshold for GM ingredients below which labelling would not be required.

Greenpeace and Beuc, an organisation representing European consumers, wants a system based on separating GM crops from conventional ones whereby each producer would have to certify whether they had used GM ingredients or not. The US says separation is impossible and Brussels claims certification would be cumbersome.

  • Euro ministers call for watered-down GM label plan, FWi, 19 May — Click here
  • Financial Times 22/05/98 page 7