GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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GMO Labelling: Guidelines

These Products Do Not Require Labelling


Not all applications of genetic engineering oblige the manufacturers to label the ingredients on the end product. The reasons for these exceptions vary. 

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Labelling not required: food products from animals fed with GM plants

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Labelling not required: Dairy products from milk cows fed with GM plants

Food which is produced with the aid of genetically modified organisms does not have to be labelled.

Legislatively, no labelling is required when food ingredients or additives have not resulted directly from a GMO. In this context, labelling is dependent upon food or additives containing material made from genetically modified organisms.

No labelling is required for:

  • meat, eggs, milk, and dairy products obtained from animals fed with genetically modified feed.

For animal feeds, the same labelling regulations apply as for food for human consumption. If the feedstuff is made from GM plants or GM microorganisms, this must be declared on the packaging or in accompanying documents.

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Labelling not required: sweetener (aspartame), produced with the help of GM micro organisms.

Labelling is not required for

  • additives, flavours und vitamins produced with the help of GM microorganisms.

Microorganisms used in food production are defined as "processing aids". If foods or additives do not contain any of these microorganisms or their residues, labelling requirements are waived.

Additives which can be produced with the help of GM microorganisms are:

  • artificial sweetener (aspartame)

  • vitamin B (riboflavine)

  • flavour enhancer (glutamate)

  • thickening agent (xanthan)

 

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Accidental traces of GMOs are excluded from labelling. For example: tacos from corn flour accidentally containing up to 0.9 per cent GMO products

Labelling is not required for food containing GMOs up to a threshold of 0.9 percent:
  • if the producer, or importer, of a product is in a position to supply evidence that appropriate steps have been taken to avoid the presence of such material and that the presence is adventitious or technically unavoidable, and

  • if the genetically modified organisms are authorised in the European Union and therewith classified to be safe.

GMOs that yet have not been authorised in the EU, but already have undergone a safety assessment and consequently are  considered safe, are tolerated up to a threshold of 0.5 percent for a three-year interim period. In April 2007, this will be lowered to 0.0 per cent.

 

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Labelling not required: honey containing pollen or nectar from GM plants

Honey containing pollen or nectar from genetically modified plants needs not be labelled.

Bees collect nectar secreted by plants. In doing so, they also collect traces of pollen which then is present in honey.

  • Honey containing pollen or nectar from GM plants legally is unaffected by EU Directive 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and animal feeds - since it neither consists of GMOs nor is produced from GMOs. 

  • Pollen in honey is not defined as an additive but as a product-typical contamination: the percentage of pollen in honey is far below 0.9 per cent and must be understood as an accidental, technically unavoidable admixture - for which labelling is unnecessary.

 

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Labelling not required: enzymes produced by GM microorganisms. For example: wine manufactured using enzymes.

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Example: sweets with glucose syrup won using enzymes from starch.

Applications of genetical engineering do not fall under labelling obligations if the substances must not be declared on the list of ingredients.

Enzymes used as processing aids for producing or processing foods do not fall under the regulation (EC) No. 1829/2003.

GM microorganisms are able to produce several enzymes used in foods, including:

  • chymosin for producing cheese;

  • starch-splitting amylases in bread or pastries;

  • sugar-splitting invertases in sweets and chocolates;

  • amylases and other enzymes used in the production of glucose syrup from starch; and

  • pectinases used to degrade cell membranes in juice or wine.

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Labelling not required: nutrients for microorganisms. For example: Vitamin C, produced with microorganisms using GMOs as nutrients.

Substrates for microorganisms. During the production of certain foods or additives, microorganisms are used which grow on a substrate or growth medium. These growth media may be made of GMOs - at present, most often GM corn or GM soy.

Growth media are not considered to be food additives and, therefore, do not fall under the scope of the regulation.

Examples of GMO growth media are:

  • bakers' yeast, cultured on a medium containing GM corn;

  • vitamin C, produced by microorganisms raised using glucose derived from GM corn starch

  • citric acid, produced by microorganisms raised using molasses derived from GM sugar beets (not yet approved in the European Union).

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Labelling not required: carrier materials.
For example: food flavours on carrier materials from GM starch.

Carrier substances. Various additives, vitamins, and flavours are applied to carriers in order to facilitate transportation, to prolong shelf-life, and to allow more precise dosage. These carrier substances may be made from GMOs and, although added to the food, are not defined as additives and therefore need not be labelled.

  • Carrier substances may be derived from starch, dextrins or glucose, which all may consist of GMO raw materials.

 


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information

January 23, 2007 [nach oben springen]

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