29 October 1999

GM labelling required only if content above 1%

FOODS containing genetically modified ingredients will not have to declare the fact on the label, unless the GM content of any particular ingredient exceeds 1%.

The new threshold is designed to overcome the problem of manufacturers who try to produce GMO-free produce, but find that there is a small degree of contamination due to imperfect separation procedures.

If GM content is greater than 1%, then the food concerned must include that information on the label, in accordance with existing labelling laws.

Some MEPs and lobby group Greenpeace claimed the 1% threshold was too high, although they welcomed the move in principle. But a spokesman at the US trade mission in Brussels said 2% would have been more appropriate, given that most trade contracts have 2% admixture tolerances.

"Overall, we still oppose the process of GMO labelling," he added. "There are no health risks involved, it increases costs and only serves to confuse and frighten consumers."

Although the new rules only apply to ready-approved GM soya and maize, the EU Commission expects to apply the same rules to all GMOs.

"These regulations will help deliver increased consumer choice throughout Europe, though more remains to be done," said UK food minister, Helene Hayman. "We will continue to press for clear rules on GM-free labelling and action on labelling for animal feeds containing GM material." &#42