Genetic engineering labeling: praise, blame and gene detectives

The new labeling requirement for genetically modified foods has some shortcomings

As of Sunday, the EU’s new directive on the labeling of food and feed containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is in effect. Although it will make it easier for consumers to identify some GM foods, key areas remain untouched by the directive. In Europe, a good 80 percent of imported genetically modified plants are eaten and end up in the consumer’s mouth as yogurt, sausage, eggs or milkshakes.

"Genetically modified" "from genetically modified … produced" or "contains genetically modified …" must in future appear in the list of ingredients or on the label if even one component of the product contains GMOs. Labeling is also mandatory for loose or unpackaged goods, such as vegetables at the market. Even if the genetic modification is not detectable, this must be indicated. This is considered by consumer protectionists to be one of the major advances brought about by the new regulations. Examples include oil from genetically modified canola, lecithin from genetically modified soybeans, or starch or. Dextrose and glucose syrup from genetically modified corn. Until now, these products could wait unmarked on supermarket shelves for their unsuspecting buyers. All foods containing genetically modified organisms, such as beer with genetically modified yeast or yogurt with genetically modified lactic acid bacteria, must now also be labeled.

However, foods and food ingredients containing up to 0.9% GMOs will not be subject to labeling if the admixtures have entered the product by accident or if they have been used in the production process. are technically unavoidable. Technical adjuvants such as enzymes, among others, do not have to be labeled, even if these substances were produced with the help of genetically modified organisms. This applies, for example, to the enzyme chymosin, which is used in cheese production.

The threshold value of 0.9 percent, however, is a point that causes problems for a number of environmental organizations. It was not clearly defined in which traps genetic engineering impurities up to 0.9 percent are tolerated, criticizes the Austrian environmental protection organization Global 2000. "We are in a lawless space here", Jens Karg, a spokesman for the organization, laments. Organizations such as Global 2000 and Greenpeace are particularly upset that meat, milk and eggs from animals fed on genetically modified feed will not be subject to mandatory labeling in the future.

More than 80 percent of the genetically modified plants imported into Europe end up in the feed trough and are foisted on consumers as milk drinks, yogurt, eggs or sausage sandwiches. The new labeling hides the fact that genetic engineering is used on a massive scale in these products.

Stephanie Towe, genetic engineering expert at Greenpeace Germany

Consumers can only protect themselves by buying organic products. There are stricter regulations here. The feeding of GMOs is prohibited on organic farms throughout Europe.

"Good" and "bose" Companies

The mobilization against the feeding of GMOs continues, especially since the risks can hardly be assessed today. Global 2000 holds in addition in a transmission:

Recent studies show that GM feed poses a risk. Artificial genetic material- z.B. from GM feed – can survive in the digestive tract of animals and even be detected in somatic cells. Studies have shown that DNA released from bacterial or food sources in the mouth can be transferred to other oral bacteria. When it comes to the consequences for humans, science is still completely in the dark.

EinkaufsNetz, the consumer organization of Greenpeace, surveyed more than 450 food manufacturers on the use of genetic engineering in their products and published it in the now third edition of the shopping guidebook. In addition, since 1. April "Gene detectives" called to check the assortment of supermarkets nationwide and report your findings in a "Gene protocol" to document. According to Greenpeace Germany, retail chains such as EDEKA and tegut are setting a good example by not only avoiding genetically modified ingredients in their own brands of meat and sausages, but had also banned the biotech crops from the feeds for them. companies such as Wiesenhof or Unilever have been using the "You may" had also shown that it is possible to do without GM soy in animal feed.

Other companies such as Muller Milch, Herta Fleischwaren or Deutsches Fruhstucksei, on the other hand, have ignored the consumer demand for GMO-free food. "These companies do not care whether cows, pigs or chickens are pumped full of genetically modified plants. They can rest on their laurels in the labeling regulation", according to Towe.

The various consumer and environmental protection organizations continue to hope for the power of the consumer and will continue to exert prere. However, they expect that the labeling obligation will also contribute to a rethinking among the still inconclusive producers. "It is precisely the small print that could make the GM industry’s nightmare come true and ensure that the cultivation of GM crops is significantly reduced", speculates Jens Karg of Global 2000. "The reorganization of the markets is already in full swing. Because manufacturers and traders know that edible oil, corn flakes or chocolate bars with a GM label cannot be sold in Austria and Europe. That is why they are increasingly switching to suppliers who can guarantee GMO-free goods. Anything else would be economic suicide."

GM labeling also on menus

By the way, those Germans who frequently eat in canteens or restaurants do not fall through the cracks and do not need to have genetically modified food foisted on them. As Alexander Muller, the Secretary of State in the Federal Ministry of Consumer Affairs, recently pointed out in a press release:

If genetically modified foods are used in canteens or restaurants, this must be made clear on the menu or in a notice. Consumers have a right to know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *