(b) the label of all packages of genetically modified foods or foods containing ingredients derived from biotechnology or biotechnology or food additives or foods that may contain genetically modified material must indicate that they have undergone genetic modification. These provisions apply to all such products imported and manufactured in the national territory; and niiler, E. (2000). Local efforts to impose the labelling of genetically modified foods are being thwarted. Nature Biotechnology, 18 (6), 590. In the EU, a number of directives set out the framework for labelling systems in the Member States. Directive 90/220 (European Union [EU], 1990), an environmental regulation (in particular its Annex III), defines the basic legal framework for labelling in the EU and requires products containing processed products to be labelled. In view of the initial environmental priority of Directive 90/220, it laid down requirements for the identification of genetically modified plant varieties in seed guides. However, it has not established tolerances for these products and varieties.
It was only in 1997, when the EU Novel Foods Regulation 258/97 (EU, 1997) entered into force, that a maximum level of tolerance of 1% was set for whole or processed foods. In 1998, the EU adopted Regulation 1138/98 (EU, 1998) for genetically modified maize and soybean varieties that were released before the adoption of Regulation 258/97. None of these directives or regulations requires the labelling of additives, flavourings or active substances. Although it is necessary to identify genetically modified feed, meat produced with such feed should not be labelled in accordance with the rules in force. Finally, EU regulators have decided that processed edible oils of maize, soybeans and rapeseed do not require labelling, as they do not contain novel proteins; all new features remain in the meal, which, when consumed by man, must be marked. Recently, the EU adopted a legislative package on GMOs which, after its implementation in October 2001, will contain GMO traceability rules to support labelling rules (EU, 2001). Given the practice of subsidiarity in the EU, EU directives and regulations will only enter into force when Member States transpose these provisions into their national legislation or put in place enforcement mechanisms in their legal systems. A number of EU Member States have announced their intention to go beyond the EU`s core requirements and extend labelling legislation to food additives and preservatives.
With regard to the content of the information, all countries subject to labelling require that products present a very simple and rather uninformative message, such as `contains genetically modified soybeans` or `derived from genetically modified maize` or `transgene`, which implies that this would be useful information for all consumers, i.e. all consumers are sufficiently informed to understand what this means. At the same time, no country mentions that the genetically modified ingredients concerned have been authorised by the Food Safety Authority. All countries with mandatory markings have food safety authorization procedures and only allow the use of CAG events disclosed by authorities. The observed consumer counter-reaction to genetically modified products might have been less significant in these sensitive countries if this type of message had been reported. Consumers would have known that the presence of GMOs was considered safe by the Authority. The new EU labelling regulation provides that any food containing genetically modified ingredients or derived products in an amount greater than 0.9% must be labelled. Genetically modified foods must also be labelled, but products derived from animals fed with genetically modified foods, such as milk, meat and eggs, must not be labelled. As a result, EU policy has brought genetically modified ingredients off the shelves of consumer markets (COM Compass, 2007).
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