GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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E 420 | Sweetener
Possible usage of gene technology Labelling
Raw material GM corn possible
Enzymes, made with the aid of GM microorganisms no



Sorbitol (also glucitol) belongs to the sugar alcohols and, as a sugar substitute, it is also suitable for diabetics. Sorbitol's level of sweetness is considerably lower then that of sugar (55%).


Sorbitol is used in different products and fulfils a variety of technological tasks; e.g.:

Gene technology

The basic substance necessary to make sorbitol is glucose. The latter is made - during the process of the conversion of starch into sugar from vegetable starch.

  • Up to a certain amount, corn or corn starch can consist of genetically modified corn - in particular, if raw materials are imported from the USA or Argentina. In the EU, genetically modified maize is grown on a comparatively small area and nonetheless is not used as raw material for foodstuff. This may change in the case that the cultivation of GM maize increases in significance. Ingredients derived from several types of GM maize are approved in the EU.
  • Enzymes 'unlock' the vegetable starch and convert it into ingredients and/or additives. Several of these enzymes are made with the aid of genetically modified microorganisms, e.g. amylases, glucose isomerase, and pullulanase.

Labelling: if additives based on starch are directly made from genetically modified plants (e.g. corn) they are liable to be labelled. Legally, it is not fully clarified if this also applies to sorbitol, which is made in several processing stage form starch and/or glucose.

Praxis has shown that there is no need for labelling. Generally, enzymes (and the manner in which they were produced) are not mentioned on the list of ingredients.


December 10, 2008 [nach oben springen]

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