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6-Regulation: Brazil labeling plan for GM foods draws criticism

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TITLE:  Brazil labeling plan for GM foods draws criticism
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   May 1, 2003

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Brazil labeling plan for GM foods draws criticism

 SAO PAULO, Brazil - The Brazilian government decree ordering labels to
be put on all genetically modified foods drew criticism from both sides
of the GM debate who said the decree was either confusing or insufficient.

Decree 4,680 published on Monday mandates the labeling of foods or
ingredients of foods with more than 1 percent genetically modified
material. The decree is part of the broader government measure 113 that
is aimed at ending Brazil's large black market in illegal GM soy planting.

But Leila Oda, the president of the National Biosecurity Association
(ANBio), argued that the decree is unclear on what standards would be
used to determine levels of GM content.

"The decree manages to be very incoherent with the provisional measure
113, aside from being confusing," Oda, said this week. She used to sit as
a representative on the National Commission on Biosecurity (CTNBio) when
it authorized the commercial planting of GM soy and corn in Brazil.

The GM planting has since been blocked by environmentalists such as
Greenpeace and local consumer groups such as the Institute of Consumer
Defense (Idec) in the courts.

"No labeling norm is rational, given the current scenario in the country,
if there is not certification of the (entire) production chain," said Oda.

Oda said there would be no way to detect GM in poultry or cattle that had
been fed transgenic corn or soy. She also said the processing of grains
into meal or oil will make it impossible to detect GM contents because
high temperatures and preservatives breakdown the tell-tale genetic material.

The consumer watchdog Idec said the decree is a step toward informing
consumers but it remains doubtful of whether the government decree does
enough to protect consumers.

Idec said consumer will not know if food with less than 1 percent GM is
actually GM-free and no labeling is required if GM is undetectable after
processing, which destroys the traces of genetic alteration.

"This means all highly processed products (such as crackers, chocolates,
pastas) will not be labeled, by the simple fact of destroying the protein
making it impossible to detect GM," the institute said in a statement.