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Vitamin E (Tocopherol)


E 306 (307-309) | Antioxidant
Possible application of gene technology Labelling
Primary products GM-soy beans, GM maize, GM-cotton yes



Tocopherol is the chemical name for vitamin E. Tocopherols, which is the generic term for at least seven types of vitamin E, are formed in many plants, especially in plant oils and in germinating wheat grain.

  • All tocopherols are fat soluble and prevent the deterioration of fats. They protect the unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid, linolenic acid) and other vitamins from degradation through oxygen binding, and act as antioxidants against aggressive, health-damaging oxygen compounds.


Tocopherols are added as supplements:

When vitamin E is added as a supplement, it has to be declared in the list of ingredients as tocopherol.

Vitamin E is predominantly used:

Gene technology

Vitamin E or tocopherol can be produced by chemical synthesis or extracted from maize, soy beans, cottonseeds, rice or wheat germ oil.

  • Soy beans: internationally traded primary product soy stems in general completely or in part from genetically modified plants. GM-soy beans are grown on a large scale in Argentina and the USA. The EU imports a large proportion of the soy primary products from these countries.
    Some food companies process exclusively conventional soy raw material. However, it is not technically possible to keep a strict separation of conventional and GM-soy beans through all the processing steps. Therefore, even raw material that is declared as "free of gene technology" contains a small amount of GMO.
  • Maize can contain a certain percentage of GM-maize, especially when the primary product has been imported from the USA or Argentina. In the EU genetically modified maize is also cultivated, but on a small scale. Accidental, technically unavoidable admixtures of GM maize can occur, but are usually under the threshold limit of 0.9 per cent, and therefore not subject to labelling.
  • GM-cotton is grown on a large scale in many countries, especially in the USA, China and India. It is probable that the cotton primary material stems to a certain percentage from GM-plants.

Labelling: Vitamin E or tocopherol from genetically modified plants (soy, maize, cotton) has to be declared. It is not necessary to declare an accidental, technically unavoidable admixing of GMO in primary products used to prepare foodstuffs up to a level of 0.9%.


December 10, 2008 [nach oben springen]

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