The new EU legislation on labelling and traceability of GMOs will enter into force on 18 April. All stakeholders agree that this is an important step towards better consumer information and choice.
When new EU legislation enters into force on 18 April, all foods
produced from GMOs have to labelled. The only exception to this can
arise from an accidental and technically unavoidable presence of
GMO, which does not have to be indicated if amounts to less than
0.9 per cent.
The regulation also stipulates that GMOs must be traceable
throughout the entire production and distribution process, thus
making it compulsory to the producers of GM seeds and crops to
inform any purchaser of the presence of GMOs and to record to whom
and from whom GM products are made available.
Most stakeholders from industry, consumer protection groups and
environmentalists agree that the new rules represent an important
step towards making the European rules on GM foods the most
extensive system of consumer choice in the world.
"The new system [...] will support the key consumer rights to
information and choice and should offer European consumers the
possibility to choose whether or not to eat food and food
ingredients derived from GMOs," said Jim Murray, Director of the
European Consumer Association BEUC.
Geert Ritsema, GMO Campaign Coordinator of Friends of the Earth
Europe, agrees: "Consumers have shown that they do not accept GM
foods and they will now be given the opportunity to avoid them.
While we will keep on lobbying for lower thresholds, I think that
the legislation is a step into the right direction. It should also
serve as a model for the rest of the world."
The biotech industry on the other hand hopes that the new rules
will open the way for lifting the moratorium on new authorisations
of GM products for the European market, which has been in place
since 1998. EuropaBio's Simon Barber said that "EuropaBio looks
forward to the re-establishment of science-based, transparent
assessments and approvals of safe GM products. This [...] will
allow farmers and consumers to make a clear choice between GM,
non-GM and organic products."