GM-free products: the illegal Breton sticker
NOTE: The new website consumer guide to Brittany's GM-free products and where they are available for sale is at
GM-FREE PRODUCTS: THE BRETON "STICKER" ANTICIPATES
Le Télégramme.com (FinistÃ¨re, Brittany, France), 2 June 2009
[English translation provided by GM-free Ireland]
Small self-adhesive "Animals fed without GMO" stickers will soon flourish on food products for sale by Brittany's retailers. They will probably be approved in the months ahead, but are still illegal. The Region takes the risk...
GM-free meat exists, and - luckily - can legally be sold, but it is forbidden to mention on the label that the animal has never swallowed the tiniest amount of genetically modified organisms. Today, the only such foreseen reference concerns plant products for which a label is required when the presence of GMOs exceeds 0.9%. For those who oppose GMOs, led by the Regional Council [of Brittany], the effect of this regulation is to keep consumers in the dark about the composition of their food, and thus prevent the organic producer from justifying the extra cost of his efforts, which is mainly due to product traceability.
A law by year's end?
For Pascale Loget (vice-president of the Regional Council, Green party), this law makes a mockery of the view of the majority of French and European citizens, 70% of whom do not want GMOs on their plates. She is therefore delighted by the opinon recently issued by the [French Government's] National Consumer Council, according to which the "animals fed without GMOs" claim should be approved from now on. "The CNC's opinion is always followed, and one hopes that the regulation will be changed before year's end", according to the elected representative. She sees this as the result of political lobbying by the 53 European Regions which declared themselves "GMO-free zones", following Brittany's pioneering leadership on the issue since 2004.
Stickers or labels...
Encouraged by this expected legal development, the Region and the Cohérence network wanted to move ahead by creating two self-adhesive stickers: a small notice to advertise the GMO-free status of certified organic shops (*), and a green sticker intended for animal products. Obviously, anticipating a law that is yet to come is a way to contravene the existing law, which forbids such labelling. Pascale Loget points out that "these are not labels, but educational stickers", with a big smile that speaks volumes about the legal delicacy of her argument. But she has no fear of legal repercussions: on the contrary, she would see any court involvement in the matter as a brilliant opportunity to promote the anti-GMO cause.