|July 3, 2003, Soil Association:
Laws allowing GM foods to be sold in Europe, for the first time
in five years, have been passed by the European Parliament,
and could be in force as soon as Autumn. The changes require
that food, derivatives (such as sugar and oil) and animal feed
containing more than 0.9 per cent genetically modified content
are labelled ‘This product is produced from GMOs’
(genetically modified organisms). Meat or dairy products from
animals fed GM feed do not have be labelled.
Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said, "Food
with less than 0.9 per cent GM content won’t have to
be labelled so it will be impossible for the public to be
sure that they are buying products uncontaminated by GMOs.
This threshold is much too high as GM content of 0.1 per cent
can be detected. The Government, represented by the Food Standards
Agency, has let down the public as the UK was the only country
pushing for higher thresholds for the labelling of GM products.
"We are very disappointed that the legislation does
not cover meat or dairy products from animals that have been
fed on GM feed.
"Despite this progress the EU moratorium on approving
new GM foods should continue until strict liability provisions
are in place to ensure that the biotechnology industry pays
for any contamination or other negative impacts, as a result
of GMOs. Currently, the companies want the taxpayer to cover
such costs, which is completely unacceptable.
"The requirements to introduce traceability at every
stage of the food chain does at least mean that the Government
can monitor the population for unexpected health effects and
can recall GM products if problems are identified.
"This legislation also means that produce containing
GMOs as an ingredient will in practice have to be treated
as a separate product by the food industry. Our understanding
is that companies will not want to deal with two versions
of the same product, so we are hoping that most companies
will chose to stock only the non-GM version.
"To implement the legislation, the biotechnology industry
must co-operate in making identification data and sample material
available for each GMO, at the moment, they are not making
the information publicly available. This data is needed so
that different GMOs allowed on the market, or that have entered
accidentally through contamination, can be tested for.
"The best way to give consumers confidence that their
food is GM-free is to ensure that no GM crops are grown in