EU to propose GM food additive label rules

Greens in the European Parliament welcome little-noticed shift in Commission's position

The European Commission is to draw up a proposal to extend EU rules on the labelling of foods made from genetic engineering to cover additives and flavourings. The decision was announced in a communication addressed to Austria at the end of October, requiring it to suspend a plan to bring in national rules governing labelling of GM additives and flavourings. Despite being published in the EU Official Journal, it remained virtually unnoticed until yesterday, when the Greens in the European Parliament issued a statement welcoming the Commission's new intention. The EU's existing regulation on novel foods does not require labelling of GM additives such as lecithin, to the chagrin of consumer and environmental groups. "It would be useful," the Commission decision reads, to require labelling of GM additives and flavourings "according to the same principles as applied to the labelling of ingredients contained or produced from genetically modified organisms". The Commission pledges to bring forward a legislative proposal to achieve this within 12 months. "Not for the first time," responded German Green MEP Hiltrud Breyer, "the Commission has been forced to bow to the logic of labelling all GMOs rather than seeking to fence off parts of the food chain in order to protect the gene technology industry." "Community legislation on labelling of all GMO products should now be unified," she went on.

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