GMlabels to cover feeds?

29 May 1998

GMlabels to cover feeds?

EUROPEAN law regarding the mandatory labelling of genetically modified food products could be extended to cover animal feed.

After months of wrangling over the exact wording, EU farm ministers in Brussels this week finally pushed through a regulation making the labelling of food products containing GM ingredients compulsory.

The rules will initially apply only to GM soya and maize. But they are expected to set a precedent and the idea now is to extend the law to cover animal feed as soon as possible, a commission source told farmers weekly.

"Commissioner Fischler is preparing a similar regulation for labelling animal feed," his spokesman confirmed. "We expect that within the next two or three weeks he will be able to propose it."

Food manufacturers have until next February to ensure their labels comply with the new regulation and, if the extended regulation is approved, it is likely that animal feed makers will be given a similar amount of time.

Paul Rooke, biotechnology spokesman for the UK-based agricultural supply trade association, UKASTA, said: "We always expected that this would probably happen. In terms of labelling feed, it should not present a problem. But the question of who will be required to do the testing has to be addressed, especially where imported feed is concerned."

Under the existing law for food, individual EU countries can decide to exempt products containing only small amounts of GM ingredients from the labelling rules. But a similar regulation for animal feed would be unacceptable, according to environmental groups.

who have already banned GM feed for use by organic farmers.

"The only system that would be worth while would be one that gives us completely accurate labelling," said Richard Young of the Soil Association.

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