Commission agrees tough plans for labelling of GMOs in food

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Series Details Vol.7, No.30, 26.7.01, p2
Publication Date 26/07/2001
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Date: 26/07/01

THE European Commission yesterday (25 July) agreed tough proposals on the labelling of food containing genetically-modified organisms.

The plans, still to be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament, would require all foods derived from GMOs to be labelled and establish a detailed record of the production chain from farm to supermarket. Food Safety Commissioner David Byrne said products would be exempted from labelling only if they contained accidental traces of GMOs - up to a threshold of one per cent.

The rules are designed to open the door to re-starting the EU's approval process for GMOs, which has been stalled for three years and caused friction with the US, the world's largest GM crop grower. Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström could not confirm when the process could resume. "We will talk to member states about it in the autumn. But I don't want to give a date. We are in the confidence-building business," she told a news conference.

Byrne said there would be new rules for authorisations when they started. It would be a "one door, one key" procedure, under which GMOs could be cleared for both food and animal feed use at the same time.

The scientific risk assessment would be carried out by the soon-to-be-established European Food Authority before a 10-year clearance could be granted, he added.

The Commissioners reportedly only reached agreement on the proposals after a heated two-and-a-half hour debate in which Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Philippe Busquin, his research counterpart, led robust opposition to them.

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