GM labelling gets EU go-ahead

27 May 1998

GM labelling gets EU go-ahead

EUROPEAN Union farm ministers finally approved mandatory labelling for foods that contain genetically modified (GM) organisms.

The rules will initially only apply to modified soya and maize but are expected to set a precedent for other “novel” foods.

Under the scheme, foods that are proven to contain GM material, this will be established through DNA and protein testing, will have to be labelled.

However, EU countries will also be able to decide which products can be exempt from testing because they contain only small amounts of GM ingredients.

The European Commission initially wanted to label any product that may contain GM material with the words “may contain”. However, the commission was forced to waterdown this proposal after member states opposed the initiative for being too broad.

Many consumer and environmental groups were not happy with yesterdays final ruling. Greenpeace believes more than 90% of GM foods will escape through the net because food that is “substantially equivalent” to the normal product, but has still been through a GM process, is not required to be labelled.

Meanwhile, Switzerland is holding a referendum on genetics on 8 June. A vote against would end all work with transgenic animals, ban the planting of GM crops and stop pharmaceutical companies patenting GM plants and animals.

  • Financial Times 27/05/98 page 7
  • The Guardian 27/05/98 page 4-5 (Society supplement)

See more