Food Law News - UK - 1999

2 March 1999: GM FOODS - GM Foods: Safety and Choice The Top Priorities Says Jeff Rooker

MAFF News Release (74/99), 2 March 1999

GM Foods: Safety and Choice The Top Priorities Says Jeff Rooker

Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker today said the public can rest assured that no GM foods will be allowed to enter the food chain unless they have first been rigorously assessed for safety.

Responding to the "Which?" report on GM foods, he said that the three GM products which have been approved to date - tomato paste, soya and maize - have all been through this process.

"The Government is equally committed to the principle of consumer choice. This is why we are determined that all foods containing GM material should be clearly labelled. We will shortly be putting into place regulations which will lead the way in Europe on this by also requiring the provision of information in catering establishments. In addition, we are pressing the European Commission to introduce proposals for the labelling of GM food additives as quickly as possible. But choice also means having access to alternatives. This is why MAFF published a list in March last year of companies from which food manufacturers can obtain non-GM soya. This now stands at 59 suppliers. We believe that all these measures add up to a robust and enforceable system for ensuring that consumers are fully protected and have the opportunity to choose whether or not to purchase foods containing GM products."

The EU Regulation 1139/98, containing detailed rules on labelling of GM soya and maize, came into force on 1 September 1998. This requires all foods containing ingredients produced from Monsanto's GM soya and Novartis' GM maize to be labelled except where neither protein nor DNA resulting from the genetic modification is present. In these cases the food or ingredients would be considered equivalent to normal foods and would not need to be labelled. Enforcement regulations will be brought into force shortly.

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