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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Europe tightens GM labelling rules
corn cob
GM research has come to a virtual standstill in Europe
The European Parliament has voted to introduce strict labelling on foods containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients.

Under current EU rules, only food with more than 1% of GM ingredients has to be labelled.


This is a major success for European consumers and a serious defeat for the biotech industry which has lobbied hard to water down these proposals

Friends of the Earth
The new proposals, which still need to be agreed by EU environment ministers, would mean that food containing GM derivatives which do not necessarily show up in testing, such as sugar and oils, would still have to be labelled.

But the parliament failed to agree on extra measures demanded by some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to label milk, meat and eggs from animals reared on GM feed.

Correspondents say the new rules are likely to cause a trade dispute with the United States, where the export of GM crops is worth billions of dollars.

'More clarity'

Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth has welcomed the vote, saying it paved the way for new legislation giving consumers and farmers the ability to avoid GM foods if they chose to do so.

"This is a major success for European consumers and a serious defeat for the biotech industry which has lobbied hard to water down these proposals," Friends of the Earth said.

GM food label
More foods will be labelled as genetically modified under the new rules
The European Commission hopes new rules on tighter labelling will provide more clarity, both for consumers and industry.

But those involved in the industry say the proposed rules would set them back by decades.

For the last four years, there has been an effective moratorium across the EU on the commercial growing of GM crops.

Public anxiety about the technology has meant research has come to a virtual standstill.

And many of Europe's supermarkets have taken GM products off their shelves.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Shirin Wheeler
"Public hostility to GM means research has ground virtually to a halt"
See also:

03 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
04 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
02 May 01 | Business
31 Jan 02 | UK
24 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
28 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
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