January 29, 2001 – A small herd of “cows” gathered outside the European Council building in Brussels today to support calls for the immediate labelling of genetically modified (GM) animal feed. The cows were joined by Friends of the Earth campaigners carrying placards saying “Don’t make me mad – label all GM feed now”.

Friends of the Earth Europe is supporting calls from the Austrian and Italian agriculture ministers for the immediate labelling of GM animal feed. Since the banning of meat and bone meal in the wake of Europe’s BSE crisis, imports of animal feed crops such as soya and maize from the US are expected to increase. Much of this may contain GM material. EU Agriculture Ministers are scheduled to discuss the BSE situation when they meet in Brussels today.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) believes that farmers and consumers have a right to know what is being fed to animals, particularly in light of the BSE crisis. Labelling would allow them to avoid GM animal feed if they so wish. An EU Novel Feed Regulation has been under discussion in the European Union for the past three years. The European Commission promised (in its White Paper on Food Safety) to present a proposal by September 2000. Nothing happened then or since, however, which means that unless emergency measures are taken, no legislation will be in place in Member States until 2002 at the earliest.

According to Heike Moldenhauer, Genetech Expert at Global 2000 (FoE Austria), “Labelling of GM feed has been postponed since at least 1997. The Agriculture Ministers should wake up and take consumer¥s concerns seriously. It’s irresponsible to rush headlong towards the next agriculture scandal”.

Bo Normander, GMO Advisor at NOAH (FoE Denmark), said: “Strict rules on labelling of GM animal feed should be applied in order for farmers – in particular organic farmers – to be able to avoid GM contamination. Labelling should appear clearly and contain information on how and why the product has been genetically altered”.

Gill Lacroix, Biotechnology Coordinator at FoE Europe said: “A succession of feed crises have proved it’s essential that we know what’s being fed to farm animals. EU citizens have made it clear they want to avoid GM food, and labelling will help them do this. One of the lessons of the BSE crisis is surely to give people more information about the food on our plates. Legislation shouldn’t be held up any longer – we need GM feed labelling now.”

Heike Moldenhauer, Genetech Expert, Global 2000 (FoE Austria), T. 43-1-812 573039, mobile 43-664-357.3517

Bo Normander, GMO Advisor, NOAH (FoE Denmark), T. 45-3536-1212

Gill Lacroix, Biotechnology Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Europe, T. 32-2-542.0182, mobile 32-(0)476-244.161