Belgium introduces stricter GM food labelling
15 April 2004
BRUSSELS – Sales of food in Belgium containing more than minute traces of genetically modified (GM) ingredients will from Sunday be illegal unless indicated on content labels.
A new law introduced on 18 April stipulates that any food containing 0.9 percent or more of GM substances must display details of the amount on packaging.
Adopted by Belgium following its approval by the European Union’s Council of Ministers in November last year, the new law also demands that the same information is clearly displayed to consumers of non-packaged foods, such as bread sold in bakeries.
However, the law does not affect the sale of meat, milk or eggs from animals which have been fed GM foods, which is largely still not indicated to consumers.
Belgian consumer defence organisation Test-Achat described the law as “an evolution rather than a revolution”, and warned consumers concerned about GM foods to remain viglant.
“One mustn’t be fooled by the real motivations behind this,” said Robert Remy, Food Policy director for Test-Achat in an interview with Belgian daily Metro.
“It is above all a necessary step in lifting the European moratorium on GM foods,” he claimed. “We will be particularly watchful over tracing methods which are largely based on theoretical considerations.”
Under the new regulations, records of the destinations of sales of GM crops must be kept for five years.
Representatives of supermarket chains dismissed fears that the new law could even encourage the use of GM products.
“Belgian supermaket chains have pledged, as far as possible, not to use GM substances in foods sold under their own labels,” said Alain Verhaeghe of the Federation of Belgian Large Retail Companies.
A spokeswoman for the Carrefour hypermarket chain told the Belgian daily Metro that it would continue to sell GM-based products. “It is not our role to make the choice of the consumer,” said Geneviere Bruynseels.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news