Survey shows GM ingredients rare fare in Europe's supermarkets

July 28, 2004: Following the coming into effect of the EU Directive on the labeling of genetically modified (GM) food, Greenpeace has found that only a limited number of such products are on sale in European supermarkets.

The international organization has been monitoring the situation in supermarket chains since the Directive came into force on April 18. No GM products were found in Italy, Spain, Austria, Sweden or Greece. Four GM products were discovered in Germany, three in Belgium, and two in the UK and the Czech Republic. The most GM-labeled products were found in France, which had 14, followed by the Netherlands with 12.

According to Greenpeace, this state of affairs is a success for consumers. 'Their rejection of GMOs in food has made major food producers and retailers ensure that their shelves are free of modified produce,' explained Eric Gall of Greenpeace's European Unit.

With a system leaning greatly on traceability and thus creating an extensive paper trail, food manufacturers have been reticent about using GM ingredients. This trend has been encouraged by the attitude of European consumers, who remain distrustful of GM foodstuff. As a result, apart from the notable exception of Spain, not many GM seeds are being sold in Europe.

Despite this, Greenpeace has criticized the fact that products derived from animals raised on GM feed do not have to be labeled. 'It is still unacceptable that eggs, meat and milk products should not be labeled as genetically modified food if they come from animals nourished with genetically modified products. Consumers want this guarantee,' said Federica Ferrario, responsible for the Greenpeace GM food campaign.

'Consumers are deliberately left in the dark about this and are paying for the global cultivation of genetically modified crops when they buy milk, eggs and sausages,' added Mr. Gall. 'The European Commission should close the loopholes in its legislation and defend the public's right to say no to GMOs.'