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Commission proposes 'de minimus' threshold and labelling rules for GMOs

The Standing Committee for Foods has given a favourable opinion on two Commission draft regulations concerning the labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

These measures would enhance legal certainty for both operators and consumers, says the Commission, firstly b...
The Standing Committee for Foods has given a favourable opinion on two Commission draft regulations concerning the labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

These measures would enhance legal certainty for both operators and consumers, says the Commission, firstly by introducing a 'de minimus' labelling threshold of 1% of ingredients individually considered, and secondly by making foods containing additives and flavourings produced from GMOs subject to the same labelling rules as those of the Novel Foods Regulation. However the draft measures do not intend to lay down rules for the use of labelling claims of the 'GMO-free' type.

The threshold aims to solve the problem faced by operators who have to avoid GMOs but who still find themselves with a low percentage of GMO material in their products because of accidental contamination. This proposed threshold applies only to material already authorised for human consumption in the European Union and will be applied as long as operators satisfy the following conditions:

- The origin of the genetically modified material has to be accidental. This means that operators have to provide evidence that they have avoided the use of GMOs as a source;
- The proportion of GM material accidentally presented cannot be higher than 1% of each ingredient individually considered.

The Commission's proposals for draft labelling rules for foods containing additives and flavourings produced from GMOs is being welcomed in many quarters because, until now, such foods have not been subject to labelling rules. The proposal is aimed to ensure that food containing GMO-derived additives or flavourings are labelled in the same way as those containing other genetically modified ingredients. For example:

- When the additives or flavourings are, contain, or consist of GMOs;
- When they raise a particular safety (e.g. allergies) or ethical concern;
- When they are not equivalent to their conventionally produced counterparts (such as when they contain protein or DNA resulting from genetic modification).

The Commission expects to adopt these measures by the New Year.

Subjects

Biotechnology - Policies
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