GENTECH archive 8.96-97


EU Proposes Labeling for RRS and Gene-Corn

    BRUSSELS, April 8 (Reuter) - Pending EU laws on food labelling will apply
to two strains of gene-modifed maize and soybeans already cleared for sale in
the European Union according to plans drawn up by the European Commission. 

    Gene-modified soybeans developed by Monsanto <MTC.N>and a maize strain
developed by Ciba <CIGZn.S>Geigy have so far escaped EU food labelling rules,
prompting protests from retailers, wholesalers, consumers and
environmentalists concerned about food safety issues. 

    The Commission draft, prepared for a meeting of EU food experts next week
and seen by Reuters on Tuesday, would bring rules for the two genetically
modified organisms (GMOs) into line with food labelling laws due to come into
force on May 15. 

    "In the interests of consumer protection and of ensuring fair conditions
of competition within the internal market... it is necessary to ensure that
the same labelling rules apply to all foods which are produced from GMOs,"
said the draft text. 

    "It would not be appropriate to have different rules for products placed
on the market and used for human consumption to a significant degree before
May 15 1997, and for products marketed after that date," it added. 

    The Commission cleared the gene maize last December, after taking advice
from three scientific committees but in the face of widespread criticism,
then saw national import bans imposed by Austria and Luxembourg and a
planting ban by France. 

    The draft text quoted various estimates that between 40 and 60 percent of
processed foods contained soya derivatives. 

    It is this point which has fired protests in the EU, already on high
alert over food safety in the wake of the mad cow brain-wasting disease and
its possible cross-over into humans. 

    -- Brussels Newsroom 32 2 287 6800 

14:45 04-08-97