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6-Regulation: Europe strengthens labelling rules for GM food andfeed

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TITLE:  Europe strengthens labelling rules for GM food and feed
        Member States may take co-existence measures
        Conciliation avoided
SOURCE: Green Group/EFA, European Parliament, by Dan Leskien
DATE:   July 2, 2003

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Europe strengthens labelling rules for GM food and feed / Member States
may take co-existence measures / Conciliation avoided

Strasbourg 2 July 2003. Today, the European Parliament gave the green
light for two new regulations, the GM food/feed regulation and the
regulation on traceability of GMOs. No amendments not acceptable to the
Council/ Commission were adopted. This means the legislation may now
enter into force soon.

Key points of the new EU rules on GMOs, GM food and GM feed

The new rules - an overview

The new rules include a whole range of improvements compared to the
current legal situation.

1. Authorisation instead of notification for GM food / feed All food and
feed products which contain, consist of or have been produced from GMOs
will in the future have to undergo a uniform and consistent authorisation
procedure. GM food/ feed must not have adverse effects on human health,
animal health or the environment. But also "other legitimate factors"
will be taken into account by decision-makers. There will be a ten-year
limitation on product approvals.

Product approval: for the first time feed produced from GMOs will require
a pre-marketing authorisation. The simplified fast-track notification
procedure foreseen in the Novel-Food-Regulation for allegedly
"substantially equivalent" GM food products, has been abandoned.

2. Dual-use authorisation requirement Before products which are likely to
be used as both food and feed may be placed on the market, a marketing
authorisation covering both uses is required.

3. Exception from authorisation requirement: 0.5% for 3 years While the
Commission had suggested a tolerance level of 1% for the "adventitious or
technically unavoidable" presence of traces of "not yet authorised GMOs",
Council and Parliament agreed to halve this threshold; the threshold will
also automatically expire after three years. Upon the expiry of these
three years, zero-tolerance for unauthorised GMOs and GM materials will
apply, as originally demanded by Parliament.

4. Monitoring In the case of all food and feed products that contain or
consist of live GMOs, post-marketing monitoring of environmental effects
will be mandatory. The Community may require monitoring of (long-term)
effects on human health in the case of all genetically modified food and
feed products.

5. Mandatory labelling for all genetically modified food and feed The
current labelling rules (under which only GM products that contain DNA or
protein resulting from a GMO have to be labelled) will be extended to
include all genetically modified food and feed of GMO origin,
irrespective of the detectability of DNA or protein. Thus products, such
as highly refined GM soy oil and GM sugar, will have to be labelled under
the new Regulation. Mandatory labelling: for all GM food / feed products,
including GM food/feed not containing any protein or DNA resulting from a
GMO ( e.g sweeteners, oils). And: feed produced from GMOs. The meat
production sector will finally get the possibility to avoid GM feed.

6. Exception from mandatory labelling While the Commission had proposed
to set a threshold for the labelling of products which contain
"adventitious or technically unavoidable" traces of authorised GMOs in
comitology, Parliament and Council have agreed on a ceiling of 0.9%. This
labelling threshold may be reduced to take into account advances in
science and technology. This new labelling threshold is a clear
improvement compared to the current legal situation. The current
deliberate release Directive (2001/18/EC) does not foresee any maximum
labelling threshold but leaves this decision to the comitology procedure.

Member States may also take co-existence measures in order to avoid as
far as possible any contamination (see below 9).

7. Mandatory labelling: ethical or religious concerns Under the new
Regulation the GM label will also indicate if a GM food or feed product
may give rise to ethical or religious concerns.

8. Traceability In the future GMOs as well as GM food and feed shall be
traceable from cradle to grave. And as in the case of the new labelling
scheme, GM products shall be traceable irrespective of whether the
genetic modification is analytically detectable in the final product or
not. Traceability shall facilitate the monitoring and, where necessary,
the withdrawal of GM products as well as the control of compliance with
the labelling requirements.

9. Genetic contamination - Co-existence At the core of the compromise are
the new rules concerning genetic contamination. According to most
lawyers, the current deliberate release Directive does not allow Member
States to require producers or users of GMOs already authorised for
marketing by the EU, to take measures which aim to prevent the genetic
contamination of conventional or organic products. Under current law, not
only the farmers concerned but also Member States seemed to have no other
option than to let genetic contamination of conventional and organic
products happen and to accept the economic damage caused by such GMO

The new co-existence rule, which will become part of the deliberate
release directive, will explicitly allow Member States to take
appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other
products. The Commission will publish guidelines regarding "co-existence"
and shall bring forward necessary proposals, including legislative
proposals if there is a need.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

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