NOTE: This is a great success for Cypriot democracy. In 2005 the prospect of a bill requiring the display of GM food on separate shop shelves lead the U.S. to send a note to the Cypriot parliament warning against any such move. The note warned that such a move would damage bilateral relations.

The note, which came from the American Embassy in Nicosia and was addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, was seen by Reuters. It urged parliamentarians to oppose the passage of the bill, saying, "The bill is in essence a poke in the eye of the U.S." (US says Cyprus ties could suffer over GMO plan, Reuters)

The note also warned that the bill would "hurt US-Cypriot relations" and told the Speaker to "do what you can to keep the bill from coming to the floor", or to at least postpone it as long as possible.

Not long afterwards the local press reported that, "A vote on the controversial bill to separate genetically modified foods on supermarket shelves will likely be put off until after the summer break." It was also reported that the bill's sponsor had said that before the U.S. embassy's intervention, all the political parties were ready to vote through the bill but after the U.S. intervention "they're not sure any more'." (Greens' GM bill shelved until the Autumn, Cyprus Mail)

It may be more than five years later but the bill has now been unanimously passed into law. Meanwhile, Wikileaks keep disclosing the intense U.S. diplomatic pressure being applied right around the world to stop governments representing the interests of their citizens. See for instance:
U.S. Embassies used Romania as Trojan horse to force GMOs into Europe - Wikileaks
U.S. main force behind Kenya's Biosafety Act
Wikileaks: State Dept. wants intel on African acceptance of GMOs
WikiLeaks: U.S. targets EU over GM crops
Spain a key ally of pro-GMO America
Leaked cables reveal GMO, agrofuel agendas
U.S. cables illustrate how the U.S. tried to sway the Vatican
How Berlusconi stopped an anti-GM crop ban at the request of US
Separate shelves for GM foods is now law
Elias Hazou
Cyprus Mail, April 8 2011

THE HOUSE yesterday voted into law a bill making it compulsory to display genetically-modified (GM) foods on separate shelves in shops and supermarkets.

GM foods and foods containing GM ingredients, will now be sold with a prominent sign stating clearly that these are GM foods, or food containing GM ingredients.

The law provides for GM labelling in three languages (Greek, English and Turkish), and stipulates hefty fines for non-compliance.

It was passed by unanimous vote, despite earlier concerns of opposition from vested interests, such as commercial quarters.

The passage of the law was welcomed by the Green Party, which has been pushing for tighter GM regulation.

“This caps our efforts of nine years,” said Greens MP George Perdikis.

The government bill passed yesterday was largely based on a legislative proposal drafted by Perdikis. He subsequently withdrew the legislative proposal as the government document has precedence.

Under EU legislation each member state is free to display these foods as it sees fit. The bloc also has tough labeling standards.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Greens had organised a gathering outside parliament where they also reiterated calls for Cyprus to be made a GMO-free zone.

Hundreds of administrative districts across the EU have declared themselves GMO-free.

A previous attempt to pass the separation bill was stopped in its tracks in 2005, after pressure from the US government.

The US embassy had at the time expressed concern that the separation of GM and non GM foods threatened to stigmatise GM foods, most of which are produced in the US.

The issue blew up some five years ago when President Demetris Christofias was still AKEL leader and House Speaker when Washington "strongly urged" him "unofficially" to make sure such a bill never got through parliament or it would damage Cypriot-US relations.

A 2008 review published by the UK's Royal Society of Medicine noted that GM foods have been eaten by millions of people worldwide for over 15 years, with no reports of ill effects. And a 2004 report from the US National Academies of Sciences stated: "To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population." There have, however, been no epidemiological studies to determine whether engineered crops have caused any harm to the public.