1 million Europeans call for GMO labelling on milk, meat and eggs

Press release - 5 February, 2007
Greenpeace today delivered to Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health, a petition containing 1,000,000 citizens' signatures calling for the labelling of milk, meat, eggs and other animal products where the animals have been fed with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

One million signatures wind their way to the European Commission in Brussels.

Greenpeace collected the signatures in 21 EU member states between May 2005 and December 2006, with the help of consumer groups and other environmental organisations. >From Ireland to Poland and Finland to Greece, ordinary people have demanded the right to know whether the food they buy is produced using GMOs.

Public participation in decision-making was a cornerstone of the EU Constitution proposal, which the German EU Presidency is seeking to revive. It grants civil society the right to call for Community legislation on key principles enshrined in the Constitution: these include citizens' right to information and freedom of expression.(1)

The statement on the petition says: "We demand mandatory labelling of animal products based on GMOs because of citizens' right to information, a fundamental right in the European Union." According to a number of surveys, most consumers would choose not to eat GM-fed animal products.

A vast loophole in EU law exempts animal products from labelling requirements: foods like cooking oil, ketchup and cake mix have to be labelled if the ingredients include 0.9% GMOs or more, and animal feed packets must be similarly labelled. But food products derived from animals fed with GMOs - meat, milk, eggs - do not need to be labelled at all.

"This petition is a call for the EU to stop letting GMOs in through the back door of Europe and onto our plates through a loophole in the law," said Marco Contiero of Greenpeace European Unit. "We will be asking Commissioner Kyprianou today, when we deliver the million signatures, to grant citizens the right to choose for themselves whether to eat food from animals fed with GMOs."

Over 90% of GM crops imported into the EU are soya and maize destined for animal feed. The diet of farm animals in Europe is typically composed of up to 30% GMOs. This amounts to 20 million tonnes of GMOs entering the EU food chain each year without consumers being told.

"Under the present law, consumers have no option but to eat food produced using GMOs," said Marco Contiero. "Taking GMOs out of the animal food chain in Europe will help protect the environment from the uncontrolled release of GM crops, which threaten health and biodiversity."

Other contacts: Marco Contiero, Greenpeace European Unit policy adviser on genetic engineering, tel +32 (0)2 274 1906 (desk) or +32 (0)477 777034 (mobile), Katharine Mill, Greenpeace European Unit media officer, tel +32 (0)2 274 1903 (desk) or +32 (0)496 156 229 (mobile),

Notes: Greenpeace will deliver the petition to Mr Kyprianou this morning at 11.45 in the VIP corner of the Commission press room. Activity outside the Berlaymont from 11.30. Photo + interview opportunity. The petition is online at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/genetic-engineering 1. According to Article I-47(4) of the proposed EU Constitution: "not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the Commission […] to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Constitution".

Exp. contact date: 2007-02-10 00:00:00