Food Law News - EU - 1997
25 July 1997: NOVEL FOODS - The European Commission agrees on an orientation for EU labelling of GMO products
Commission Release (IP/97/700 ), 25 July 1997
The European Commission agrees on an orientation for EU labelling of GMO products
The European Commission agreed on a general orientation on the labelling of products produced from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), intended to ensure a coherent European Union approach across the different sectors regulating the use of GMOs in the food chain. On the basis of this approach, the Commission will propose measures which will cover all products placed on the market following the safety approval, both "live" GMOs and products derived from GMOs, thus guaranteeing coherent labelling throughout the production chain. This approach would lead to the following labelling : voluntary labelling (e.g. "this does not contain ... ") for certified non-GMO produce; mandatory labelling (e.g. "this contains ... ") for produce known to be of GMO origin; mandatory labelling (e.g. "this may contain ... ") in cases where material of GMO origin cannot be excluded but where no evidence of the presence of such material is available.
In order to adequately meet the legitimate demand for labelling, to enhance transparency and to safeguard the Internal Market, the Commission will prepare draft legislation based on the following fundamental principles:
- labelling of products consisting of, containing or derived from GMOs throughout the food chain,
- labelling intended to give consumers clear, honest and neutral information about the GMO origin of products, facilitating choice for consumers without stigmatising modern biotechnology or raising doubts about the safety of products,
- a science-based approach, implying mandatory labelling whenever the GMO origin can be scientifically proven in order to ensure enforceability and to limit the scope for fraud (through the possibility of verification),
- an approach which is simple and not unduly costly for operators to comply with and one which minimises uncertainty,
- an approach that is in accordance with the EU's international obligations and which does not impose mandatory segregation of production, transport and distribution lines on operators but only proportionate labelling requirements,
- a coherent and flexible framework to determine the precise labelling rules with a clear proactive role for the EU.
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