Food Law News - UK - 1998

21 May 1998: NOVEL FOODS - Consumer Choice Wins On Genetically Modified Foods

MAFF News Release (211/98), 21 May 1998

Consumer Choice Wins On Genetically Modified Foods

All food products containing genetically modified (GM) soya and maize are to be clearly labelled, following a new agreement between European member states.

Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham welcomed the move. The UK Government has campaigned hard in Europe to secure better labelling of GM foods. Clear information on the label will give consumers the right to choose whether or not they buy those products. The decision, taken by representatives from all Member States in Brussels yesterday, will make GM labelling compulsory for all European food manufacturers. The move sets a precedent for the labelling of all GM foods, not only soya and maize, and is expected to be formally ratified at the Agriculture Council on Monday 25 May 1998.

Dr Cunningham said:
"Consumers are our number one priority. This change to European labelling rules will give consumers the ability to choose whether they eat genetically modified foods or not. Britain has campaigned hard to ensure labelling is meaningful and practical. Yesterday's agreement is a triumph for consumer rights to better information. Genetic modification could offer cheaper, more nutritious foods for consumers. But, we, as the Government, must make sure that every new crop and the foods produced from them are carefully vetted before being approved for use. We are also looking at ways of further strengthening our monitoring and testing procedures to make sure these crops remain harmless to human beings, wildlife and the environment."

There is a comprehensive set of controls in place regulating the cultivation and use of genetically modified crops across Europe. In Britain, anyone wishing to get authorisation to grow and market GM crops in the UK would have to:

The News Release includes the following additional notes:

To go to current UK Food Law News page,
click here.
To go to main Food Law Index page, click here.