GENET archive


REGULATION / FEED: On GE food labelling in South Korea and Quebec(Canada)

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  S. Korean gov't orders labelling of all GMO products from late June
SOURCE: Yonhap News, South Korea
AUTHOR: Yonn Gong
DATE:   28.03.2007

S. Korean gov't orders labelling of all GMO products from late June

The South Korean government said Wednesday that all products with
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be clearly labelled as such
under a plan to enhance consumer rights.

The plan, which goes into effect on June 29, is an expansion of current
identification requirements designed to protect the environment and
consumer health. Under the current rules, it is only mandatory to
identify genetically modified beans, bean sprouts, corn and potatoes.

Products containing GMOs, which have been artificially transformed in
labs to improve output, taste and resistance to disease, have drawn
criticism over their possible adverse effects on the ecosystem and human

"The changes call for all GMO products that are imported and
manufactured for human consumption to be labelled," said Kim Young-man,
head of the Agriculture Ministry's agriculture distribution bureau.

_To encourage enforcement of the new rules, the official said people who
report mislabeling will be given cash rewards of up to 2 million won (US

Kim stressed that the move is not aimed to hurt imports of GMO products
from such countries as the United States, and speculated that it will
not cause complaints.

"The actions are not new and are only an expansion of existing
procedures," he said.

In addition to GMO products, the ministry said it will start a
nationwide probe to ferret out mislabeling of fresh and processed
agricultural goods starting on April 1.

The latest actions are to cover both fresh produce like melons,
watermelons, strawberries and peaches as well as manufactured products
including bread, noodles and curry.

Because of higher prices and stronger consumer demand, some importers
and retailers have intentionally mislabeled cheap imports as being
produced in the country.

The ministry said those found to have tried to mislead consumers could
face a fine of under 100 million won or a jail term of less than seven years.

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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Where are your GMO labels Mr. Charest?
SOURCE: Greenpeace Canada, Canada
AUTHOR: Press Release
DATE:   28.03.2007

Where are your GMO labels Mr. Charest?

MONTRÉAL, Canada -- This morning Greenpeace delivered five tonnes of
Quebec-grown GE corn in front of the Quebec Liberal Party's office in
Montreal. By this action, Greenpeace reminds Quebec Liberals of its
broken promises of 2003, as well as of the importance of the issues
involving the mandatory labelling of GMOs or genetically modified
organisms. On the heap of corn one could see many small posters reading:
"GMOs -- What they are they hiding from us -- Monsanto 863 Corn, Monsanto
LY038, etc." With this gesture the environmental organisation reminds
people of all the names of all the varieties of genetically engineered
corn approved in Canada, which various governments involved are trying
to keep out of public sight.

During the last provincial election, the three main parties did all they
could to dodge the GMO labelling issue, and obviously they did not
clearly commit themselves to labelling. Yet in no way does it mean that
the problems GMOs create suddenly vanished from our radar screens. The
new Liberal minority government will have to give an answer http://
mode=question&q=6 to the overwhelming majority of Quebeckers who are
willing to know if what they eat contains GE food.

In 2003 the Quebec Liberal Party and its leader, Premier Jean Charest,
promised to enact GMOs mandatory labelling
canada/en/campaigns/ge/what-we-do/labelling-of-ge-food-in-quebec-2. It
is now known that the costs of such a measure would not be that high
ge-food-in-quebec-2/how-much-cost-labelling-quebec. As a matter of fact,
the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) was given
in October 2006 an economic report stating that the costs involved would
not be as high as one might have expected, and that they were lower in
fact than what the industry proclaimed. Greenpeace and other groups
analysed this report, and then put forward concrete solutions in order
to finance such costs in case they materialised. As for Parti Québécois,
its leader André Boisclair promised to "implement a management system
that will enable us to trace our food from farm to fork". ( Letter from
André Boisclair to Greenpeace, August 4 2006 Internet address site).
Consequently, the PQ's caucus and its leader should be able to support a
motion in favour of the labelling of GM food in Quebec since such a
measure would represent "the first prerequisite to inform the population
more efficiently." Eight PQ MNAs already signed Greenpeace's statement
requiring that all GE foods be labelled. They should be able to support
a similar Liberal bill or regulation. Greenpeace demands that a precise
timeline be set to fulfil that promise. We demand that a GE food
mandatory labelling draft regulation be submitted at the Commission on
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (CAFF) and adopted by the National
Assembly by the end of 2007 at the latest. Furthermore, in the light of
the report submitted to MAPAQ in which it was confirmed that the
labelling costs were not as high as what the agri-food processing
industry pretended, we demand that the new Liberal minority government
legislate GE food labelling.

As for Action démocratique du Québec, now the official opposition, it
refused to answer Greenpeace's questionaire during the electoral
campaign. Submitting a mandatory GE labelling draft regulation would
force those MNAs to state their opinion publicly on a measure that
between 80 and 95% of the people of Quebec support.

To this day about forty countries have already implemented the mandatory
labelling of GE food, or they are on their way to do so. (See map on
Greenpeace International website, pdf
If they can do it, so can we. The obstacles are not technical in nature,
they are actually political. 'voluntary' labelling (left to the
discretion of the agri-food industry) as was adopted by the federal
government in April 2004 has until now not produced a single "with GMO"
label. In addition, the federal standard that sets a very high threshold
of 5% actually allows the industry to hide the majority of food
containing GMOs or produced from GM ingredients. Since the Canadian
Government is dragging its feet on this issue, the Quebec government
should immediately implement a mandatory labelling system. Greenpeace
strongly condemns the fact that no bill has been filed and adopted yet.

GMOs traceability

In order to ensure the food we find on our groceries' shelves do not
contain GMOs, the most economical, practical and rigorous strategy would
be to make sure that none of the basic ingredients used in processed
food are GMO free. Consequently, we must implement a traceability system
in our food chain. Such a system would be mainly based on every
supplier's formal guarantees. Independent laboratories would regularly
test their claims. There would be no need to check every product on the
market since you don't necessarily find traces of GMOs in it (e.g.
canola oil). Quebec could start by adopting labelling standards similar
to those found in Europe, with a traceability threshold of 0.9% above
which the labelling of GE food would be mandatory. Notice that this 0.9%
threshold applies to each ingredient taken individually and that the GMO
occurrence should be accidental and non-permanent.

Costs of labelling

The European experience showed that consumer retail prices did not
increase following mandatory labelling. Large European grocery chains
such as Safeway, Marks & Spencer and CWS Retail simply reorganised their
supplies in order to provide food free of GMOs http://
CFID=7264503&CFTOKEN=87237617&ucidparam=20010829143728 and as the same
price as before, just as the vast majority of their customers wanted it.
The European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Mr David
Byrne, confirmed it when he stated: "Some pretend that costs will have
to increase significantly because of labelling. We do not think it will
be the case. The current labelling system (based on DNA and protein)
that was proposed in 1997 did not push up costs despite the horrendous
forecasts put forward by some interest groups." Nevertheless, in case a
mandatory labelling system carried additional costs, one should make
sure that the farmers who farm without GMOs and the consumers who don't
want to find it on their plate are not the ones footing the bill! Those
who produce or use GMOs should be the ones paying for it. Since the
Monsanto Corporation is 90% responsible for GE crops across the world,
there is no reason why we should indirectly subsidise this company by
paying more for our food in order to mop the costs of labelling.
Greenpeace and other groups have already made public a report made for
Quebec's MAPAQ about GE food labelling costs. If you study this report
closely, you will find that the labelling would not be as expensive as
what the industry claims.

Beyond the labelling issue

However, one should not be content to deal only with mandatory
labelling. The whole GE food issue must be debated by society. This is
why Greenpeace invites every citizen of Quebec to be present at the
hearings of the Commission on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

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European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

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