GENTECH archive 8.96-97


European Commission GEF Labeling

    BRUSSELS, Feb 5 (Reuter) - The European Commission plans to isue
guidelines to EU member states by mid-March on the labelling of genetically
modified food, the Commission's environment spokesman said on Wednesday. 

    The proposed guidelines will fill the gap pending a revision of an EU
directive laying down rules for the marketing of transgenic food, which is
due in June. 

    "It's a signal that the Commission takes note of the public and political
debate on genetically modified organisms," Peter Joergensen told a news
briefing, adding that the Commission wanted to act as quickly as possible. 

    The Commission is also preparing labelling rules for so-called novel
foods which use new genetic technology or are being marketed for the first
time in Europe. 

    Some EU member states, pressed by consumer and environment groups, are
pressing ahead without waiting for Brussels to act. 

    A French official said in Paris on Monday that France may allow the
marketing of genetically modified maize as early as this week after drafting
its own compulsory labelling code. 

    Joergensen played down any conflict with EU single market rules, saying
he was sure the French code would be along the same lines as those envisaged
by the Commission. 

    In December, the European Commission approved a French request to
authorise imports from the U.S. of gene-maize developed by the Swiss firm
Ciba Geigy AG <CIGZn.S>. 

    In March, the Commission approved imports of modified soybeans from the
U.S. that had been genetically altered by Monsanto Co <MTC.N> to make them
resistant to a herbicide. 

    -Peter Blackburn Brussels Bureau +322 287 6830 

07:53 02-05-97