France backs GM labelling law for meat and dairy

French politicians have backed a proposal for mandatory labelling of meat and dairy products from animals raised on genetically modified (GM) feed.

The proposal is contained in the first draft of president Emmanuel Macron’s Food and Agriculture Bill, which is being debated in French parliament.

The Bill is also seeking to make it mandatory for labels to include details of pesticides used on fruit and vegetables.

See also: France to ban ‘misleading’ veggie products

Calls for a change in the labelling laws came from France Nature Environnement – a federation of environmental groups  – which described the result as a victory.

French politicians have already voted to ban “misleading” vegetarian products which use meaty names such as sausage or steak.

Senate vote

The Food and Agriculture Bill will now be put to the French Senate to examine from 26 June.

If accepted by the senate, the labelling laws will start by January 2023. On-pack labels would have to include information on the conditions under which the animal were raised and whether they had GM feed.

Patricia Thomas, director for Beyond GM, part of the Sustain food and farming alliance,  believes the UK government should take note of the ruling in France.

“Most of the UK’s conventionally reared animals are given GM feed and meat, eggs, fish and dairy are one of the most common ways in which UK consumers come into contact with GMs,” said Ms Thomas.

“Labelling is an important start, especially given the strong opposition that the UK public has to eating GMs.”

Ms Thomas called on supermarkets to reinstate strong sourcing policies that reject GM-fed animal products.

She added: “Our government, too, needs to step up – with a coherent food and farming policy that produces food – rather than labels – that people can trust.”

Feed me the Truth study

GM Freeze carried out its own research in 2016 into the level of GM feed used in the UK supply chain in 2016, with its study Feed me the Truth.

The anti-GM lobby found all the UK’s top 10 supermarkets were stocking GM-fed products, including eggs, meat, dairy, poultry, red meat and farmed fish.

Waitrose, which has announced a new EU soya supply line, is stocking less GM-fed meat than the other UK supermarkets, the survey found. But it cannot guarantee that any individual product is non-GM fed, unless it is organic.

GM Freeze campaign director Liz O’Neill said: “We want to see strong regulation of GM across the food chain and information for consumers through the labelling of GM ingredients and the use of GM feed.

“People do want to know how their food is produced. Everyone should be able to find out about the provenance of their food.”

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