17 July 1997
Govt calls for GMO labelling
The Government will endeavour to ensure that genetically-engineered food is properly labelled with pertinent information, deputy agriculture minister Jeff Rooker told the Commons today.
During Agriculture Question Time, Labours Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) asked what plans there were to ensure that genetically-engineered crops were separated from the main crop.
Mr Rooker told her, that under the World Trade Organisation rules, it was impossible for Government to demand the segregation of genetically-modified crops approved as being safe. However, manufacturers and retailers are free to pursue segregation on commercial grounds. I note many supermarkets in this country are ever-more demanding traceability in their suppliers, he said.
Ms Jones asked whether he agreed that the right of the public to have their food labelled with pertinent information was more important than the rights of multinational food companies to make large profits by claiming that they are unable to separate genetically modified crops from the main crop.
She asked if he would use his best endeavours to ensure that food was properly labelled.
Mr Rooker replied: The answer is yes to both questions.
At question time, he said: This Government does want to see more organic conversion. There has been a problem with getting farmers to convert in relation to the present structures. We are reviewing that.
Demand for organic produce at the moment is extremely strong – so much so we are importing produce. We want to see British farmers meeting that demand in this country with organic produce.