QSomeone claims that 61 countries require GMO labeling. What does a GMO label look like?What is sufficient to require such a label?

Someone claims that 61 countries require GMO labeling. What does a GMO label look like? What is sufficient to require such a label?

AExpert Answer

You raise several questions. I’ll address each of them individually.

 

Someone claims that 61 countries require GMO labeling. There is a quasi-generalised requirement to label products of GM origin that are not considered to be substantially equivalent to their conventional counterpart, with a view that the consumer be informed of novel traits and food properties to facilitate informed choices. Labeling can be mandatory (Australia, EU, Japan, Brazil, China) or voluntary (Canada, Hong Kong, United States). For products that are considered to be substantially equivalent, because they possess only input traits (such as insect resistance), there exists a large heterogeneity of approaches. Labeling can be product (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, United States) or process-based (EU, Brazil, China).

 

What does a GMO label look like? A concrete example of GM labeling on food products sold in supermarkets in the EU is Reese’s chocolate and peanut bar, which states: “produced from genetically modified sugar beets, corn and/or soybeans." Click here to view an image of a GM label.

 

What is sufficient to require such a label? GM labeling is not like nutrition labeling. The objective is not to warn consumers about healthy―or less healthy―choices but to be an application of the "freedom of choice" principle, as GM, conventional and organic products target different market segments. Only a handful of GM products are currently made available in supermarkets in the EU. This is the result of commercial decisions made by retailers in Europe, which tend to select products that are below the 0.9 percent GM ingredient threshold that exempts GM labeling. Recently, retailers in the UK have publically announced the end of their GM-free policy for animal feed, as this is not justified by health concerns and leads to higher prices for the food chain and ultimately for the consumer.

 

More information is available here.

Posted on August 15, 2017
No! However, poor nutrition coupled with highly processed foods and a lack of education regarding healthy eating is bad for our kids. As a mother and farmer, I believe the best way to keep my family safe and healthy is to make sure they eat a balanced diet and make good food choices daily. Fresh, healthy ingredients and minimally processed foods that are low in sugar, salt, calories and cholesterol provide kids with the best opportunity for a healthy diet. Agricultural biotechnology... Read More
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Posted on February 9, 2017
A species is defined by the ability to reproduce viable offspring, so any two plants within a species generally have the potential to cross pollinate. Like any good successful mating, it requires the union of male and female contributions at the right time, same place. So absolutely, GE crops have the potential to cross with non-GE crops of the same species—if they manage to get it on through time and space.    So the rules that apply to dogs and teenagers also apply to... Read More
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Posted on March 2, 2017
Here is a set of slides prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that discusses the sketch approval process. As the slides indicate, there are four categories of labels that require prior sketch approval: temporary labels, religious exemption, exports with labeling deviations, and special statements and claims. In the situation raised by your question, it is the last category (special statements and claims) that would... Read More
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