Europe says GM-free food labels need not tell truth

A A A

Europe agreed yesterday to allow food to contain up to 1 per cent of genetically modified material while still being labelled as GM-free.

Europe agreed yesterday to allow food to contain up to 1 per cent of genetically modified material while still being labelled as GM-free.

The deal, agreed by a majority in an EU committee last night, came despite objections from two countries which argued that the threshold should be set much lower, perhaps at a level of 0.1 per cent.

The EU's standing committee on foodstuffs also agreed to apply the measures on GM-free food labelling to suppliers.

However moves to extend the same regulations and a similar labelling regime to foods marketed as additive or flavour-free were provoking more opposition last night.

Yesterday's decision was taken despite the fact that some big retailers, including Marks & Spencer, have already adopted a much lower threshold.

Environmental and consumer groups in the UK had been converging around the idea of a threshold of 0.1 per cent. But at yesterday's discussion Britain backed the 1 per cent ceiling, although it was in favour of reviewing the situation after a given period.

The European Commission argued that it already keeps the situation under review and, when the vote was taken, only Spain abstained although Portugal had earlier voiced doubts.

Under the agreed procedures the Commission can now bring forward a regulation bringing the measure into force without referring the issue back to the Council of Ministers.

The decision on additives and flavourings proved more divisive, with Ireland, Spain and France opposing.

Harry Hadaway, GM campaigner with the Soil Association, condemned the decision as a "licence to pollute" and said that the Government had gone against the public's wishes.

"This will not be good enough for consumers who want GM-free to mean what it says," he said. "The market will demand 100 per cent GM-free no matter what the EU decides. Retailers have realised this and their approach of starting at 0.1 per cent and trying to go to zero is much more more sensible."

Doug Parr, the campaigns director of Greenpeace, said no account had been taken of GM crops in animal feeds. "If consumers are concerned about the environment they should demand only animal products that have been fed on GM-free foodstuffs. Since the EU is not meeting consumer aspirations it is up to the supermarkets to fill the gap."

But a spokesman for the Government's GM Unit insisted that the 1 per cent limit applied to each ingredient, which would equate to a lower level in a finished product except in cases of single ingredient foods such as whole soya beans or popcorn.

"This is to protect restaurateurs and others required to label products, so that if they have made every effort to be GM-free but if there has been some accident, a GM content of up to 1 per cent in an ingredient will be tolerated."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£21806 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking to j...

SEN KS1 Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Qualified and experi...

Reception Teacher

£21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

Year 1 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ofsted have said "Good te...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor