Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Tuesday, March 2, 1999 Published at 14:51 GMT


Consumers demand GM food label reforms

Consumer groups say current labelling laws are inadequate

The Consumers' Association has called on the government to improve the way genetically-modified food is labelled.

The BBC's June Kelly: "Some manufacturers say its impossible to label everything"
A survey shows that many people want all packaging to say whether food has been genetically-modified in any way.

Research for Which? magazine conducted by the Consumers' Association investigated 32 common foodstuffs, both supermarket own label and well-known brands, which were not labelled as containing any GM ingredients.

Eight of the samples contained soya and maize that were guaranteed GM free but all of the other 24 could contain GM products even though they are not required to state this on the label.

The association wants to ensure that shoppers who do not wish to consume GM foods are given an alternative and the freedom and information to choose.

'In the dark'

Which? Editor Helen Parker said: "There are so many loopholes and exemptions that, even if the current labelling laws were fully enforced, consumers would still be left in the dark."

[ image: Recent food scares make labelling all the more important]
Recent food scares make labelling all the more important
The association launched its campaign to put pressure on Agriculture Minister Nick Brown for more rigid labelling rules by unveiling a billboard opposite his Whitehall office declaring: "Isn't it time labelling was modified too?"

A European Union regulation, introduced in September last year, means that GM ingredients only have to be labelled if they contain determinable levels of protein or DNA.

However, other soya-derived ingredients such as lecithin, commonly used in the manufacture of chocolate bars and cakes, do not have to be labelled along with other GM ingredients which contain no protein or DNA.

Children's food

The research showed that the makers of eight of the products, including Kellogg's Cornflakes and Heinz Rice Pudding for children used GM-free sources of soya and maize.

But the other 24 products remained under suspicion of containing ingredients derived from GM sources.

A poll of 2,000 people carried out by the consumer group showed that support for more stringent labelling laws was overwhelming.

Some 94% of those questioned said they wanted to see any ingredients which had been modified in any way clearly labelled.

In addition, 92% said they wanted to see labelling regulations widened to include all processed GM derivatives, even though that could not be detected in the final product on supermarket shelves.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

23 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
GM food scare is 'bad science'

18 Feb 99 | Food under the microscope
GM foods: Here to stay?

16 Feb 99 | UK Politics
'Confidence' move on GM food

12 Feb 99 | UK Politics
'No need' to ban genetic foods

12 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Supermarkets back gene foods

Internet Links

Which? Online


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online