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GM food should be labelled by supermarkets - FSA

GM food should be labelled by supermarkets - FSA
Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
The Telegraph, 9 Jan 2013

*Consumers want supermarkets to label meat and dairy products made with animals fed genetically modified feed, according to Food Standards Agency research.

The survey of more than 1,500 people found 67 per cent of the public think it is important to write on the label if the food product [contains GMOs]; for example if meat, eggs, milk, are from animals that have been fed from genetically modified plants.

Telegraph research has shown all supermarkets stock dairy and meat products from animals fed GM, though none label the product.

The findings come just three weeks after Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, suggested that food produced using GM is regularly fed to the UK public.

“There isn’t a single piece of meat being served [in a typical London restaurant] where a bullock hasn’t eaten some GM feed.”

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, said the new findings prove that in fact the public want to know what is in their food.

“This is a major blow to Owen Paterson’s GM policy. The FSA figures show a large majority of consumers believe GM food labelling is important.”

Under EU law, food containing GM ingredients, such as flour, oils, and glucose syrups, have to be labelled .

However foods such as meat, milk, and eggs from animals fed on GM animal feed do not need to be labelled.

Farmers admit that chickens and pigs are routinely fed GM soy, as it is cheaper, and supermarkets are unable to guarantee that the products they sell are not from animals fed GM unless they are organic.

But the research, commissioned by the FSA, suggested that consumers want to know when the animals are fed GM.

"Two-thirds of respondents considered it very or quite important that it is written on a label if the food itself or ingredients in the food are from a genetically modified plant or the food product is from animals that have been fed genetically modified plants," the survey concluded.

In other EU countries supermarkets and manufacturers label products from animals fed GM. In Germany, France, Austria and Ireland, government-backed voluntary labelling schemes allow consumers to choose meat and dairy products fed GM-free feed.

The FSA, which is in charge of labelling, is working with the EU over how to label the use of GM in food products in the future.