GM labeling in Europe takes effect

Tough new labeling and traceability requirements for genetically modified (GM) foods in Europe took effect April 18, 2004. Foods that contain or consist of genetically modified organisms or that are produced from them must be so labeled.

Foods containing 0.9% or less of GMOs do not need to be labeled.

The European Union says the rule gives consumers, many of whom are suspicious of GM ingredients, the choice of not buying them. It is also seen as a way to end the de facto ban on GM crops into Europe.

National Food Processors Assn. president and CEO John Cady called the labeling requirements a “serious trade barrier” that will keep many U.S. food products out of Europe. “Mandatory labeling should be based on the composition, intended use, and health and safety characteristics of a food product, not on the ‘genetic process’ from which it was derived,” Cady said. He described the traceability requirements as regulatory overkill with added expense but no benefit.

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