Europe toughens GE labelling laws to US chagrin
Progressive European legislation another blow to pro-GE lobby and wake up call to NZ exporters
Auckland, Thursday, 3 July 2003: Hailed as a historic victory for consumers, the European Parliament today adopted the world’s strictest and most comprehensive rules on the labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Greenpeace praised the move, which is a practical example of EU resistance towards the intensified global campaign by the US Government and the genetic engineering (GE) industry to ease or abolish GMO legislation.
The new EU rules allow consumers to exercise their right to reject GE food. All food and animal feed containing or deriving from GMOs will have to be clearly labelled, making it possible for farmers, food producers and consumers to continue avoid using or eating them.
“This vote is a slap in the face for the US Administration, which thought that by bullying and waving the WTO stick, Europe, and eventually others, would swallow its GE policy. In the real world, however, the EU has now adopted progressive legislation, which facilitates the market’s desire to identify and exclude GE ingredients. This legislation is a model for other countries, including the US and Canada, where all such freedom and information is currently denied,” said Eric Gall, Greenpeace EU Advisor on genetic engineering.
Since the first shipment of GE soy arrived in Europe in 1996, public opposition to genetically engineered food has been massive and shows no signs of decline. The world’s largest GE soy producers, the US and Argentina, have since lost 3.3 million tonnes of soybean exports to Europe. The third largest soy producer, Brazil, has gained significantly from its GE-free status and has recently confirmed its determination to forbid planting of GMOs during the coming growing season. The market rejection continues to spread as at least 37 countries worldwide now have restrictions on GMOs in place.
“The New Zealand Government needs to upgrade our own labelling legislation to the new European standard and heed the fact that these new European laws will greatly reinforce the ease with which consumers and producers in Europe can avoid unwanted GE produce,” said Greenpeace New Zealand Campaigner Steve Abel. “This is the major reason that New Zealand’s GE free producer status is invaluable in a global market place that doesn’t want GE food.”
For more information: Steve Abel, Greenpeace New Zealand GE Campaign, 021 565 175.
Back ground: Implications for Market of new EU labeling rules for GE food and feed; http://greenpeace.org.nz/campaigns/ge/documents.asp