Financial Times (London) November 20, 1997, p. 09
Shops set to label genetically modified food, by Alison Maitland
Food manufacturers and retailers will today announce a voluntary
to label food containing genetically modified protein when it appears in
supermarkets and shops in January. The joint decision to label products
voluntarily comes as the food industry is pressing the government and the
European Commission to speed up legislation on the controversial issue.
"It is vital that labelling of genetically modified foods is
or we risk confusing consumers," said Guy Walker, president of the Food
Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers. "To achieve this we
The European Union has agreed that maize and soya must be labelled but
Commission has yet to issue detailed guidance on what the labels should
A joint statement from the federation, the British Retail Consortium and
the Institute of Grocery Distribution, said: "If no agreement is
by January, the industry will start labelling products containing the
protein from this year's US harvest voluntarily."
The genetically modified soyabean developed by Monsanto, the US food
chemicals group, to be herbicide resistant, was approved as safe by the
European Commission in April 1996.
But there has been a backlash from environmentalists concerned about the
long-term safety of genetically modified crops, and retailers and
manufacturers are anxious to offer consumers choice.
Soya from this year's US harvest, of which about 15 per cent was grown
modified seed, has just begun arriving in the European Union. The altered
soya is not segregated so it could be in each shipment.
Soya is used in an estimated 60 per cent of processed foods, including
soups and sauces, cakes, confectionery, convenience and vegetarian foods
such as tofu.
Labels will be put on products containing the added protein which makes
crop resistant to herbicide. Soya oil, where the protein has been removed
in processing, will not be labelled even if it was made from modified
The food and drink federation said genetically modified maize posed
of problem because it was not used as widely as soya and non-modified
supplies could be obtained readily. The Consumers Association said
labelling was a step forward but crop segregation was "the only way to
guarantee consumer choice".
Following consumer research, the industry has decided the labels should
state that the product "does contain" genetically modified soya rather
than "may contain" it. The latter option was found to confuse consumers.
Some supermarkets are drawing up lists of soya-free foods for consumers
keen to avoid it.
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
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Richard Wolfson, PhD
Campaign for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods
Natural Law Party, 500 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
Tel. 613-565-8517 Fax. 613-565-1596
Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
contains more information on genetic engineering.
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