Tighter traceability for GMOs

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, European commission

Laws on GMO traceability for food companies operating in the
European Union moved up a gear on Friday with the Commission
clearing a new system of coding for all GMO varieties.

The move not only allows the industry to pinpoint exactly, at any moment in the supply chain, the identity of the GMO, but means that by the time the product reaches the marketplace, any GMO ingredients present are easily indentifiable.

"Each GMO that has been approved for use in the EU will be given a different code composed of letters and digits, a so-called 'unique identifier",​ said the Commission on Friday.

The new code - applicable once it is published in the EU's Official Journal - will be required to accompany products containing that GMO as they are transmitted through the production and distribution chains. Companies will have to list the codes for individual GMOs, in accompanying documentation, that have been used to constitute the original raw material for products intended for food, feed and processing.

"This will allow products containing these GMOs to be accurately traced and labelled when they come to the marketplace,"​ added the Commission.

Tough new rules on GMO labelling of food and feed will enter into force this April. The coding system agreed last week is the final piece of the EU's regulatory framework puzzle on the authorisation, labelling and traceability of GMOs (Directive 2001/18 and Regulation 1830/2003).

Discussions currently underway at a European level are looking to decide whether the EU should lift its de facto​ five-year ban on new genetically modified food and crops, a ban severly criticised by Canada and the US for breaking trade laws by blocking their GMO producer farmers from selling their wares in Europe.

Earlier this month, the European Commission delayed the adoption of a proposal to authorise imports of a GM sweetcorn onto European lands, opting to bundle the issue with other GM points on the agenda of an upcoming Commission meeting later in January.

Expected to relaunch the debate on BT 11 - a genetically modified maize marketed by Swiss biotech firm Syngenta - the European Commission failed to draw up a proposal to send to EU ministers.

If Europe opens its borders to BT-11 imports, the EU's unofficial ban on GMOs would effectively end.

Related topics: Policy, Food Safety & Quality

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