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3-Food: US warns Japan against making GMO labels mandantory



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TITLE:  US warns Japan against making GMO labels mandantory
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   July 27, 1999

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US warns Japan against making GMO labels mandantory

TOKYO -- Isi Siddiqui, special assistant for trade to the U.S.
agriculture secretary was cited as warning senior officials of
the Agriculture Ministry in Tokyo that if Tokyo implements
mandatory labelling of foods containing genetically modified
organisms (GMOs) it could mislead consumers about food safety and
disrupt trade, telling reporters that, "We do not believe that
obligatory GMO labelling is necessary, because it would suggest a
health risk where there is none. Mandatory labelling could
mislead consumers about the safety of these products and require
segregation of GMO and non-GMO foods. I fear major trade
disruptions and increases in food costs to consumers if Japan
requires mandatory labelling."

Siddiqui also was also cited as stating that Japan, as a member
of World Trade Organisation (WTO), is obligated to find the least
trade-restrictive way of achieving its objectives. There are a
number of ways other than labelling, such as educational
materials and public forums, to provide consumers with
information on genetic engineering, he said. Keishiro Fukushima,
director-general of the ministry's Food and Marketing Bureau, was
quoted by a ministry spokesman as telling Siddiqui that Japan is
considering reliable and practical GMO labelling. But he did not
elaborate on whether it would make labelling mandatory or
voluntary. A Japanese government advisory panel on GMO labelling
rules will make a final decision by the end of August. 



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