04 September 1998
GM labelling ‘a farce’

By FW Staff

NEW labelling laws for genetically modified foods have been branded a farce and a con by organic farming promotion body the Soil Association and environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth.

The EU directive requires companies to show whether GM soya and maize are used in their foodstuffs. But the regulation exempts foods which contain soya oil or other soya derivatives, such as the thickening agent lecithin.

Opponents have attacked the loophole, claiming it could mean most processed foods will contain undisclosed GM derivatives in the future.

“Shoppers are being conned by politicians into believing that this label will help them avoid genetically altered food,” said Adrian Bebb, spokesman for Friends of the Earth.

And the Soil Association criticised the laws as weak and ineffective. It claimed the new regulations would fail to give consumers a real choice because up to 90% of foods containing ingredients from GM sources are not required to be labelled.

Soil Association director Patrick Holden said: “In forming this directive politicians have failed to take into account the massive public opposition to GM foods. Government has apparently capitulated to the demands of the biotech industry at the expense of public health.”