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Groups hail Euro vote to keep GM out of organic foods

By Jess Halliday , 03-Apr-2007

Organic food and environmental groups have welcomed a European Parliament decision to set the threshold for genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in organic food at the lowest level possible - quelling fears that higher levels in some countries could destroy the market.

The European Parliament voted on a proposal for a council regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products that Friends of the Earth Europe says would have allowed traces of GMOs in organic food. A series of amendments to the proposal were approved, with the stated justification that: "Organic farming principles, objectives and rules exclude the use and the presence of GMO in all organic processes and products. It is therefore important to adopt national and EU legislation which guarantees that contamination with GMOs does not take place." Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, and the European Environmental Bureau, called the result "a clear indication from European elected representatives that the right to GM-free food is non-negotiable". The vote follows grave concerns from the UK, after the government proposed allowing up to 0.9 per cent GM in organic food without it being labelled. The UK's Soil Association interprets the EU regulation as setting the threshold at the lowest possible level, 0.1 per cent. Policy director Peter Melchett said: "David Miliband [Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] must now scrap the UK government proposal to allow almost one per cent GM contamination of organic food. His pro-GM position has been criticised by 74 major organic businesses, because people who eat organic food want to avoid all GM".

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