Labelling - the right to know

Background - October 1, 2004
When consumers began to realise they were eating genetically engineered (GE) food without their knowledge or consent, there were immediate calls for mandatory segregation and labelling. Surveys have found that most people want to know if their food is GE - for both ethical and environmental reasons.

Gene detectives in action in Europe.

It is this consumer demand for information that led to the world's strictest labelling legislation, which came into force in the EU on the 18th April 2004. Because consumers largely reject GE food, the vast majority of EU food producers and retailers have stopped using GE ingredients in their food products sold within the EU.

There are two major changes to the previous labelling provisions: first, genetically engineered feed must be labelled and second, all products derived from GE ingredients must be labelled, irrespective of whether they can be detected in the final product or not.

However, the law is still far from perfect. Although feed is now labelled, meat and dairy products from animals fed with GE-feed are currently not labelled. As such, we have been demanding that dairy companies offer non-GE milk products. Real consumer choice should be extended also to meat and dairy produce.

Consumer rejection is one main reason whey countries are introducing labelling laws and regulations around the world.

Canada, China, Brazil, Sweden and USA have all recently carried out research into consumer perceptions of GE food and food labelling.

The growing public concern about genetic engineering has convinced more governments to introduce GE labelling. The following countries have all pledged to introduce some form of mandatory labelling systems: Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, China, Israel, Japan, Chile, Norway, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Taiwan and Thailand.

Click here to view the The Center for Food Safety's map of worldwide labelling regulations.

In-Depth:

No old GMOs in new Europe

Implications of the EU's New Labelling Rules

Governments Worldwide Require Labelling and Regulation of GMOs

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