Brazil to require labels on GMO foods

April 30, 2003, The Brazilian government announced on Monday that all food and food ingredients made from more than 1% genetically modified ingredients must be labeled as containing GM materials. The new labeling regulation, established as part of an effort to end Brazil’s large black market in illegal GM soy planting, has been met with criticism on both sides of the GM debate, reported Reuters.

One of the decree’s critics, Leila Oda, who is the president of the National Biosecurity Association, said the decree did not make clear what standards would be used to determine levels of GM content. She added that there would be no way of detecting GM ingredients in meat from animals that had been fed biotech corn or soy.

At the other end of the GM debate, consumer watchdog Idec said the decree was a step forward but added that it doubted whether the decree did enough to protect consumers. Idec said consumers would not know if unlabelled food was totally GM-free. It also added its concerns that no labeling would be required if GM ingredients were undetectable after processing.

"This means all highly processed products (such as crackers, chocolates, pastas) will not be labeled, by the simple fact of destroying the protein making it impossible to detect GM," the institute was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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