In an attempt to create greater transparency for consumers, Germany plans to introduce a new “non-GM” label on food that have not been genetically modified.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Gert Lindem says the non-GM label will apply not only to non-GM crops but to eggs, meat, and milk from animals raised on non-GM feed.
Germany’s parliament is expected to approve the law, which would be introduced this spring.
Consumer groups have praised the new law as a pragmatic solution. They say it provides farmers with greater motivation to avoid using genetically modified products such as corn and soya. In the past, they were more likely not to go to the trouble, since they knew they would not be allowed to use the non-GM label anyway.
“The new labeling will give consumers the choice to buy dairy products from animals that have not been fed with genetically modified plants,” said Gerd Billen from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations in Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Experts also say that a rise in consumer demand for food carrying the new label might lead to an increase in demand for non-GM feed on the international market.
Jochen Koester, president, TraceConsult, says the new label will benefit food manufacturers. “This will enable manufacturers to reap the economic fruit of their additional efforts.”
Renaud Layadi, sustainable development project manager, Regional Council of Brittany (France), says Germany’s new law could lead other EU countries to adopt similar legislation. “Germany is the EU’s largest pork importer, and if this decision is put into enforcement it will have a domino effect on the three big exporters on the German market: Denmark,
Netherlands, and Poland. Sooner or later they will have a surplus to ship to other countries and so national producers will have to follow suit,” he says.
However, some oppose the new label because food containing GM ingredients such as additives, vitamins, and amino acids can also be labeled non-GM. They say such labeling is misleading.
“If you say a product is without GM explicitly then it should have no GM,” said Marcus Girnau, managing director of German food industry federation, BLL, in an interview with FoodNavigator.com. “Otherwise we should change the claim, to say without GM plants, for example.”
(Sources: FoodNavigator.com, Deutsche Welle)