On 30 Apr 2001, at 14:03, Robert Vint wrote:
SOUTH AFRICA and AUSTRALIA, two of the most pro-GM nations, are to
severe curbs on GM-Free and non-GM labels at the forthcoming meeting of
WTO's CODEX Committee on 1st-4th May. Below is the full text of their
Genetic Food Alert UK believe that a threefold strategy
is being used by the
biotech industry and its allies to break the global consumer boycott of
foods by abolishing food labeling. This strategy involves:
1. Maximising the global spread of GM pollution through the deliberate
contamination of seed supplies, the non-segregation of raw materials for
food industry and the imposition of uncontained 'field trials' of GM crops
on regions wishing to be GM-Free. Whilst the GM contamination of food
still principally a US problem, the contamination of seeds from the US
Canada, together with the 'trialling' of GM crops in hundreds of locations
in many countries threatens to globalise the problem.
2. Undermining public support for negative GM labeling by finding and
high-level publicity to any food products labeled as 'non-GM' or 'GM-Free'
that they have succeeded in contaminating - and then calling for national
and international bans on such labels. Major ingredient suppliers linked
the biotech industry currently tell manufacturers that such claims are
'impossible' to justify, whilst independent producers that have exercised
due diligence in avoiding contamination are happy to make such claims.
3. Opposing statutory GM labeling by ensuring that there is so much
contamination that everything has to be labeled as GM, by demanding that
contamination thresholds are increased every time the background
contamination level increases, or by outlawing statutory GM labeling
globally (via the WTO) as an 'obstacle to free trade'.
Genetic Food Alert believes that, even in the face of widespread GM
contamination, consumers have the right to know through appropriate labeling
which producers have taken rigorous steps to avoid the use of GM ingredients
or their accidental presence in food items. GFA calls upon consumers
organisations worldwide to urgently oppose national and international
changes designed to remove this right and to alert the public to any such
developments in their nation.
Item 11 CRD.1
JOINT FAO/WHO FOOD STANDARDS PROGRAMME
CODEX COMMITTEE ON FOOD LABELLING
Ottawa, Canada, 1 - 4 May 2001
OTHER BUSINESS AND FUTURE WORK
PROPOSAL FOR NEW WORK:
CLAIMS ON THE ABSENCE OF FOOD PRODUCED USING GENE TECHNOLOGY
(proposal by Australia and South Africa)
1. Labelling claims made regarding the absence of food or food
ingredients produced using certain techniques of genetic
modification/genetic engineering, so called 'negative claims', are
increasingly being applied on a voluntary basis by food businesses in
countries to address a perceived consumer demand or market niche for such
foods. The number of food products carrying such negative labelling claims
often far exceeds the occurrence of positive labels even in countries
positive labelling is mandatory.
2. Such negative labelling claims may be regulated under general
provisions within food law regarding false or misleading conduct, and/or
through general provisions within consumer protection or fair trading/trade
practices legislation that regulate false, misleading or deceptive conduct.
3. Negative labelling claims on food produced using gene technology
however bring with them issues not specifically recognised in such
legislation. For example;
§ negative claims made regarding the absence of novel GM components
(recombinant DNA or novel protein) within a food may lead consumers to
conclude gene technology was not used at any step of production,
§ negative claims made on food or ingredients that do not have a
genetically modified/engineered counterpart while truthful may be deceptive,
§ negative claims may erroneously be applied to foods or ingredients
which contain GM components but fall below a permitted ingredient threshold
for positive labelling.
Regulation and Guidance on Negative Claims
4. Some countries (e.g. Netherlands, Austria and Germany) have
recognised these anomalies difficulties by developing regulations specific
to negative claims for foods produced using gene technology.
5. Australia provides specific advice on the use and limitation of
negative claims in the Compliance Guide for Labelling of Food Produced
Gene Technology developed to support positive labelling requirements coming
into effect in December 2001.
6. The scope and general principles of the Codex General Guidelines on
Claims (clause 1.2) emphasises the importance of regulations on the
representation of food in stating: "no food should be described or
in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create
erroneous impression regarding its character in any respect". The
also emphasises (clause 3.5) that: "claims that could give rise to
about the safety of similar food or which could arouse or exploit fear
the consumer" should be prohibited.
7. While these general Codex provisions recognise the importance of
setting wide-ranging regulations to prohibit misleading claims, they do
adequately address issues specific to negative claims for food produced
using gene technology.
8. The Codex Guideline for the Labelling of Food and Food Ingredients
Obtained Through Certain Techniques of Genetic Modification/Genetic
Engineering (CX/FL 01/7; at Step 3 of the Codex Procedure) incorporates
guidance with respect to negative claims.
9. Lack of international harmonisation on the application and use of
negative labelling claims for food produced using gene technology has
potentially serious implications in the trade of such foods. There is
an imperative to establish common approaches to regulating such claims.
Proposal for New Work
10. Clear and specific guidance must provided by Codex on the use and
applicability of negative labelling claims for food produced using gene
technology. Developing guidance on this issue may be approached by either:
§ reviewing the Codex General Guideline on Claims to elaborate the
applicability and use of negative claims for food produced using gene
§ incorporating guidance on the issue in the proposed Codex Guideline
for the Labelling of Food and Food Ingredients Obtained Through Certain
Techniques of Genetic Modification/Genetic Engineering.
11. Specific issues on which guidance should be provided include:
§ The availability and accreditation of evidence to substantiate
statement or claims regarding the absence of food produced using gene
§ Whether the statement or claim is likely to mislead consumers
regarding the food or ingredients safety, nutritional value or composition
as compared to food or ingredients produced using biotechnology;
§ That where an absolute statement or claim is made, such as "GM
the claim applies to the production of all components within the food
ingredient (such absolute claims should not allow for accidental presence
a genetically modified component of presence of biotech components as
or trace ingredients and would be technically difficult to enforce);
§ Where the statement or claim cannot be guaranteed, as is likely
food or ingredients marketed or processed using identity preservation
systems, the statement should be qualified to accurately reflect the efforts
of the manufacturer including systems of accreditation used;
§ Where a food or ingredients produced using gene technology is
specifically exempt from positive labelling, the application of a negative
claim is potentially deceptive and could mislead consumers; and
§ Negative labelling statements or claims should be limited to those
foods or ingredients for which biotech counterparts exist in the market.