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EU allows GM foods, but with labels only

European Parliament has replaced a ban on new biotech foods with rules that allow genetically modified products that are clearly labelled.
PTI | By Associated Press, Brussels
UPDATED ON JUL 03, 2003 01:36 PM IST

The European Parliament passed two laws on Thursday to replace a ban on new biotech foods with rules that would allow genetically modified products in Europe if they are clearly labelled.

The 626-member EU assembly voted the two proposals through without major changes, officials said, paving the way for quick adoption by EU governments before the end of the year.

That should see the early lifting a seven-year freeze on the introduction of new biotech foods.

The rules would force producers trace all genetically modified organisms at all stages of production and oblige supermarkets to label their products clearly using the words: "This product is produced from GMOs."

"This is a huge step forward in giving choice to citizens," said EU Health Commissioner David Byrne. "All foods whether pre-packaged, or not, will have to be labelled."

Products containing more than 0.9 per cent of biotech material will have to be labelled.

The new laws, backed by EU governments, will also allow the 15 EU nations to set their own rules to prevent seeds from farms growing GM crops blowing on to fields of conventional or organic produce.

The United States has long pushed the EU to drop its biotech ban, but the new rules are unlikely to satisfy Washington, which says mandatory labelling of biotech products will be too costly for exporters.

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