"The threats of GMOs to biodiversity and the environment are real and irreversible. Their impact on agriculture could be destructive. Our country has to take measures to prevent such adverse effects.” - Professor Xue Dayuan, leader of the expert group drafting the “China National Biosafety Framework” the policy blueprint for biosafety legislation
1. Greenpeace applauds Chinese government on tightening GMO controls
2. A worldwide overview on regulations and labelling of GE - updated
1. Greenpeace applauds the Chinese government on tightening control over genetically modified organisms
Hong Kong/London, 7th June, 2001- Greenpeace today applauded the decision of the Chinese government to tighten control over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by limiting their release to the environment and launching a comprehensive labelling system on GMO seeds and food products.
The new “Biosafety regulation on GMOs in Agriculture”, announced today by the Chinese government, is the legislative framework safeguarding biodiversity, the environment and human health against the potential adverse effects of GMOs. It covers the GMO applications in the areas of research, field trials, production, food processing, management, as well as import and export. According to the new regulation, GMOs will be classified into four categories according to the seriousness of their potential impact on the environment and on living organisms. Their releases to the environment need to be approved by relevant authorities.
The regulation outlines the mandatory labelling of all GMOs, including seeds, animal feed and food products containing GMOs. Unless GMOs are labelled, their sale will be illegal.
“This is definitely a positive move of the Chinese government, being one of the world’s largest agricultural producers and food consumers, in taking a precautionary approach towards genetic engineering,” said Lo Sze Ping, Campaigner of Greenpeace China.
“Due to the popular rejection of genetically engineered (GE) food in Europe, transnational GE companies are trying to dump their products into Asia. The recent decision of the Thai government in banning environmental releases of GMOs and the Chinese government’s new regulation are clear signs that Asia is refusing to be the dumping ground for an unwanted technology,” Lo added.
Despite the rapid development of genetic engineering in China, the Chinese authorities have been very cautious about applying GE technology in food production. So far, only pest-resistant Bt-cotton, which accounts for one million ha in 2000 (1/3 of the total cotton crop area), has been commercially released and is mainly for industrial uses. Delay-ripening tomato and virus-resistant sweet pepper have been allowed for commercial growing, but the permit for their seed reproduction are yet to be granted due to biosafety concerns. Therefore, in reality, no GE food crops have been commercially grown.
When asked by Greenpeace, Professor Xue Dayuan, researcher at the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences of the State Environmental Protection Administration, commented that “this new regulation shows that Chinese government is taking the precautionary principle on genetic engineering. The threats of GMOs to biodiversity and the environment are real and irreversible. Their impact on agriculture could be destructive. Our country has to take measures to prevent such adverse effects.”
Professor Xue is the leader of the expert group drafting the “China National Biosafety Framework” the policy blueprint for biosafety legislation.
For more information: Lo Sze Ping, Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaigner in China, Mob: +85290430966; Greenpeace International Press Office, Tel: +3120 5236637.
2. A worldwide overview on regulations and labelling of GE
UPDATED WITH INDIA AND CHINA LAWS.
Governments world-wide require regulation and labelling of GE foods
Below is a partial review of legislative action on genetically engineered (GE) food being taken by governments
On December 24, 2000, Algeria introduced a draft ministerial order "to prohibit the import, the distribution, the commercialisation and the utilisation of genetically modified plant material"11 Declaration of Minister of Agriculture, 24th Dec 2000- Democratic Peoples Republic of Algeria
Australia and New Zealand
The Australian New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) is responsible for scrutinising new GE foods intended for the market. Australia and New Zealand have adopted a labelling regime for genetically modified foods that will come into force in July 2001.22 USDA FAS GAIN Report #AS9026 6/4/1999 Australia and genetically modified Organisms 1999
In 1998 Greenpeace won an injunction saying that no genetically engineered Roundup Ready (RR) soya may enter the country before there are proper labelling rules in place. In August 1999 a federal judge of the Court of Brasilia upheld this decision and decided in favour of another Greenpeace injunction against the planting of RR soya. The need for labelling rules was reconfirmed by the Federal Court of Brasilia in June 2000 but at this time there are still no such rules implemented.
China announced on June 7, 2001 a comprehensive labelling system on GMO seeds and food products. The new "Biosafety regulation on GMOs in Agriculture" is the legislative framework safeguarding biodiversity, the environment and human health against the potential adverse effects of GMOs. It covers the GMO applications in the areas of research, field trials, production, food processing, management, as well as import and export. According to the new regulation, GMOs will be classified into four categories according to the seriousness of their potential impact on the environment and on living organisms. Their releases to the environment need to be approved by relevant authorities. The regulation outlines the mandatory labelling of all GMOs, including seeds, animal feed and food products containing GMOs. Unless GMOs are labelled, their sale will be illegal.
Labelling of GE foods will be required from 2002. Otherwise Czech law is being enacted to harmonise with EU regulations covering GE food.33 USDA GAIN report #EZ0020 12/29/2000 "Czech republic Biotechnology new law comes into Force January 1, 2001)
All 15 countries of the European Union
The EU Novel Food regulation regulates the marketing and labelling of products which are GE or derived from GE organisms. An additional labelling regulation applies to Roundup Ready soya and Syngenta Bt maize requiring labelling of food products in which the DNA or the new protein of GE crops is detectable. In April 2000 additives and aromas were added to the labelling regulation if DNA is detectable in the end product. 44 Commission regulation 50/2000 of 10 January 2000 on the labelling of foodstuffs and food ingredients containing additives and flavourings that have been genetically modified or have been produced from genetically modified organisms. Regulations for GE animal feed and products from animals which were fed on GE feed is planned and under discussion. The EU is planning to improve labelling rules and to make traceability of GE products mandatory.
Although some GMOs such as Roundup Ready Soya, Aventis rapeseed oil and Syngenta Bt maize have clearance for use in food products. There is currently a de-facto moratorium on any new GE product approvals while the EU tightens regulations. Portugal, Luxembourg, Austria and Germany have further banned Syngenta Bt maize while France and Greece have banned Aventis rapeseed.
In January 2000 the Legislative Council of Hong Kong supported a motion demanding mandatory labelling of GE products with a 39 out of 47 majority. Now the Government has set up a task force to draft the details of a comprehensive labelling system. The proposal is expected to be reviewed by the Legislative Council later this year.55 Policy Address 2000 (October 2000) HK: government printer.
South China Morning Post (1 April 2000) "GM Food Labelling Policies Imminent" Public consultations in this regard are now being undertaken.
Under Indian law, it is illegal to import or sell any genetically engineered food products without the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
GE food is regulated under the Food Act 1996. In terms of labelling requirements for GMOs: The words "Genetically Engineered Food" shall be contained in labels of food resulting from GE. In the case of processed food which results from GE, the information on GE ingredients of foods resulting from the GE on labels shall be enough66 USDA GAIN report #ID0045 10/2/2000 "Indonesia Food & Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards Country Report 2000".
Israel's ministry of health is preparing regulations for the labelling of GMOs. They will require that food be labelled if it contains more than 1% of GMO components, and otherwise will be similar to the EU regulations concerning GMOs.77 Israel to adopt GMO labelling http://www.oryza.com/global/genetic/index.shtml
The Government of Japan previously operated a voluntary safety review for genetically engineered products. This review became mandatory on April 1 2001. Japan also adopted mandatory labelling for certain GE products at the same time where they constitute more than 5% of the final product.88 USDA GAIN report #JA0128 11/8/2000 "Agricultural biotechnology in Japan 2000" Some GE ingredients remain not allowed including StarLink corn.
Republic of Korea
The Korean government will begin requiring mandatory labelling for GE foods from 1st March with strict enforcement from 1st September 2001. Those selling food are expected to show certification documents as to the GE status of their products. Anyone found to be falsely labelling would face a 3-year jail sentence or 30 million won fine. Those who fail to label will face a 10 million won fine.99 USDA GAIN report #KS1009 3/2/2001 "Republic of Korea Biotechnology Enforcement of Biotech labelling for unprocessed commodities 2001"
From 1st of July 2001 GE food labelling will become mandatory.110 see legislation at: http://www.lm.gov.lv/pdf/aktualitates 0
In March 2000 the upper house of Mexico's Senate unanimously approved a health bill that would require GE foodstuffs to be labelled. Foods containing GE ingredients would need to carry labels reading "Food made with genetically modified products." The law is awaiting approval by the Chamber of Deputies.111 Reuters (31 March 2000) Mexican Senate passes bill on genetic food labels.1
Norway is regarded as having some of the strictest GE rules world-wide. The government has banned the import of several GE crops and products, which contain antibiotic resistance genes. The government also requires labelling of GE foods.
The use of GMOs in Paraguay's agricultural sector is banned in 2000/2001 specifically soya beans.112 USDA GAIN report #PA0007 6/23/2000 "Paraguay Biotechnology - Paraguay Renews GMO Planting restrictions"2
There are a number of bills in the Philippine Senate and Congress concerning the labelling of GE crops. The new President and Secretary of Agriculture have made GE labelling a government priority and are soon expected to publish details of GE labelling requirements.
The Polish government announced in April 2000 that all genetically modified food products would have to be labelled. The Ministry of Environmental Protection decided that the information should be on the package in easy-to-read captions in contrasting colours.113 Polish News Bulletin (25 April 2000) New Regulations for Genetically Modified Foods. p. 19.3
Russia instituted a GE consumer product labelling law on July 1st 2000. Food and medical products derived from GE sources that contain GE proteins must be labelled. Information on GE sources must also be included in shipping documents.114 USDA GAIN report #RS9057 11/24/1999 "Russian federation Food and Agricultural Import regulations and standards - Russian biotech labelling law - 19994
The government has banned animal products that are made from genetically engineered organisms and has also implemented very strict labelling requirements for GE foods to come into force December 2001. GE foods must be marked with a triangle and a warning in both Arabic and English. GE foods entering the country must also be accompanied by a health certificate.115 USDA GAIN report #SA0021 12/18/2000
"Saudi Arabia Biotechnology - Saudi Arabia Bans Imports of GMO Animal Products, revises GMO labelling & Extends Grace period" 5
From 1st May 2001 on the imports of all genetically modified foods will be banned . Under the new order, the government will ban the import, manufacture, transport, storage, distribution and sale of any food item that has been produced using genetic engineering technology116 Daily News Sri Lanka (12 April 2001) All GM Foods including soya beans to be banned from May 1, by Manjula Fernando AP Worldstream, (13 April 2001) Sri Lanka announces ban on genetically modified food imports6.
Food products, including additives, and animal feed stuffs which are or contain genetically altered matter have to be labelled as 'genetically modified organism' or 'contain genetically modified organism'. As of January 2000, Switzerland is the first country where drugs containing GMOs must be labelled.117 Swiss Federal Health Office (14 June 2000) Deklarationslimite für gentechnisch veränderte Lebensmittel. Press release. SR 916.307 Verordnung über die Produktion und das Inverkehrbringen von Futtermitteln. Art. 23 Deklaration gentechnisch veränderter Futtermittel.7
The Taiwanese government presented an outline of new labelling regulations on November 29 2000. Under the proposal mandatory labelling will be established for all GE food products. The regulation will first apply to maize and soybeans and later on also to other agricultural products.118 USDA FAS attaché report - Dec 4 2000__"Taiwan_|_Bioengineered Food Labeling Proposal_"8
Thailand is preparing labelling regulation for GE food. The regulation should be ready by July 2001.119 Reuters (19 April 2001) Thailand to impose GMO labelling in three months_ 9
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