GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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EU Prepares for GMO Animal Feed Labeling



    By Peter Blackburn     BRUSSELS, April 4 (Reuter) - European Union (EU)
Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler aims to present shortly radical plans for
the compulsory labelling of all gene-modified animal feedstuffs, Commission
sources said. 

    But a draft text, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, proposes that
the European Parliament and EU farm ministers should jointly decide the
labelling rules which could lead to considerable delay in approval of the
plans. 

    The proposal reflects Fischler's desire for tougher rules to protect
public health following European Parliament criticism that beef industry
interests were given priority during the mad cow crisis and growing consumer
concern about food safety. 

    Fischler's approach would necessitate labelling all animal feed
irrespective of the percentage of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) it
contained. 

    It also implies the separation of GMO and conventional farm products
throughout the production cycle from seed to compound animal feed. 

    Fischler is preparing a separate proposal to cover genetically modified
seeds. 

    His plans differ from the more moderate approach proposed on Wednesday by
EU Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard that labelling should be on the
basis that products "may contain" 

GMOs, feed industry sources said. 

    Bjeregaard's proposal, which sets guidelines for all sectors, needs only
to be approved by an EU regulatory committee and could come into force fairly
soon. 

    Industry sources said that effective labelling would be impossible in the
absence of a clear definition of GMO products and recognised methods of
analysis and control. 

    The proposed GMO animal feed labelling system would be vulnerable to
attack by the EU's trading partners, notably the United States, which would
probably challenge it in the World Trade Organisation, the sources added. 

    But farmers are likely to welcome the opportunity to show consumers that
their cereals and other farm products are GMO-free, especially if this adds
market value, European Commission sources said. 

 --Brussels Bureau +322 287 6830   

11:11 04-04-97