Commission acts on labelling fears

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The Independent Online
The European Commission is ready to call for all seeds, animal feeds and consumer foods to have labels showing whether they do or do not contain genetically modified materials - or whether they "may contain" them.

The wide-ranging approach to labelling, agreed by the 20 commissioners, would be introduced this autumn, to replace the existing haphazard rules which only cover genetically modified seeds, animal feeds and some consumer products.

Labelling issues almost led to a trade war between the European Union and the US last autumn, after American farmers grew genetically modified soya beans and mixed them into the unmodified crop before processing. As a result, it was impossible to say whether foods made with soya contained genetically modified components. A huge range of supermarket foods, including biscuits and cakes, use soya in their manufacture.

The new labelling proposals would tighten up regulations, though consumer groups warned that the "may contain" category would be used as a catch- all. The EU insisted it would only be applied if data was not available.