Brussels, July 3, 2002 – The European Parliament today voted for the full labelling and traceability of genetically modified (GMO) foods and animal feeds. The vote paves the way for new legislation to give consumers and farmers the ability to avoid GMOs if they choose.

Today’s vote by Euro MPs is a major defeat for the biotech industry and US government who have fought to weaken proposals to ensure that food products derived from GMO crops are properly labelled. A Eurobarometer survey in December showed that 94% of the public want the right to choose whether to eat GM foods.

The proposals will now go to the Council of Ministers for approval. A further two votes are likely to be needed by the European Parliament over the coming year before the proposals would become law.

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth said: “Today’s vote is a major success for European consumers and a serious defeat for the biotech industry who have lobbied so hard to water down these proposals. The public should have the right to avoid GMO foods if they don’t want to eat them. By backing this comprehensive labelling scheme European MPs have paved the way for them to have that choice.”

The European Parliament has voted for:

  1. Full traceability and labelling of foods derived from gm crops:
    It is estimated that 30,000 products can contain GMO-soya and GMO-maize derived ingredients such as vegetable oil or maize syrup. Under current EU law only a small minority of these products (restricted to the ones in which GMO DNA or protein is detectable) have to be labelled.
  2. Labelling of GMO animal feeds:
    Euro MPs have voted for GMO animal feeds to be labelled. At present they are not.
  3. No contamination by unapproved GMOs:
    The Commission had earlier proposed that GMOs that have not been yet approved in the EU should be allowed into human and animal food up to a level of 1%. The Parliament has now rejected this proposal.
  4. A threshold of contamination defined:
    The Parliament voted that foods or feeds that are contaminated with GMOs up to 0.5 % would not have to be labelled. FOE believes that contamination is unacceptable and that any threshold should be as good as the testing technology which is currently 0.1%. Many retailers can detect GMOs down to 0.01%. The Commission had proposed a 1% threshold.
  5. No to a ‘GMO-free’ label:
    The biotech industry was pushing for a GMO-Free label. This would increase the cost of GMO-free food making consumers pay more for something they’ve always previously had. This was not supported by the Parliament.

What the Parliament didn’t vote for
MEPs rejected the labelling of animal products from animals fed GMO feeds eg milk, meat and eggs by 3 votes. FOE will continue to press for these products to be labelled.

Name Adrian Bebb Tel 00 44 113 389 9952 Mobile 00 44 771 2843211
Name Geert Ritsema (in Strasbourg) Mobile 00 31 6 290 05 908