22 May 1998

Labels for GMsoya & maize

FOODS containing genetically modified soya or maize will have to carry a label stating as much throughout the EU, following new rules to be agreed next week.

Farm ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday (May 25) are expected to rubber stamp a new EU Commission proposal setting out the labelling requirements for such products.

The detailed rules follow heated discussion in Brussels this week, in particular on the form of words for foods which processors believe might contain GMOs, but for which there is no scientific evidence.

The commission – supported by Italy, Denmark and Sweden – wanted these items labelled "may contain GMOs". But all other member states said this was of little use to consumers, who needed to know categorically whether their food had GMOs in it.

As such, the Commission has backtracked. Now, if a manufacturer is not sure if an ingredient is genetically modified, he must test for it. Only if the result is negative can he use the label "does not contain GMO". Otherwise he must declare the food is "produced from genetically modifed (soya or maize)".

&#8226 Brussels scientists have given a favourable opinion for placing on the market a new GM, insect resistant maize from Pioneer, and a GM hybrid oilseed rape from Plant Genetic Systems.