GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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Stakeholder input wanted: survey on research needs for assessing GMO impacts 

Shaping the Future of GMO Research

Stakeholder with interests in the risk and/or benefit assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are invited to take part in an online survey.

The aim of this survey is to identify which research needs should be prioritised, thereby contributing to the commissioning of research on the health, environment and economic impacts of GMOs.

The survey will close on 15th July 2015.

More information and access to the online survey

The setting-up of this website was financially supported by the European Union within the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme from 1 January 2005 until 28 February 2007.

The European Commission and other EU agencies are not responsible for the content.
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GMO Labelling

Labelled Goods Hard to Find

The newly extended EU directive for labelling genetically modified foods has been in effect since April 2004. However - contrary to expectations - very little has changed throughout most of Europe. Labelling requirements were broadened significantly, but consumers nonetheless rarely find labels indicating the use of genetic engineering.

Producers: Avoiding labelling

Often, labels are interpreted as warnings rather than simply as information about the application of genetic engineering. Many consumers believe that GMO labels are meant to notify of health hazards - and feel "on the safe side" if they choose products without GMO labels.

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Going shopping: GM products haven’t been "banished" from supermarkets everywhere in Europe. In the Netherlands, a range of products can be found which are labelled according to the regulations. (Photo: baking fat, margarine, soybean oil, mayonnaise, salad dressing)

With this perception in mind, producers expect accurately labelled products containing GM ingredients to fail on the market - and expect that consumers will opt against them, even though they essentially are equivalent to competing "GM free" products. In addition, environmental and consumer groups publicly denounce labelled products - placing pressure on producers.

Anyone who places labels on their GM products risks losses in sales and damage to their image. In order to avoid this, many producers have changed the composition of their products: rapeseed oil (canola oil) may be used instead of soybean oil for producing margarine – soy lecithin may be replaced by chemical emulsifiers. Other producers pay a premium for soy with a written guarantee that GM content does not exceed the 0.9 percent threshold, thus allowing the producer to use soy and forgo the GM label.

Genetic engineering outside the scope of the labelling directive

Areas in which the application of genetic engineering is very common and often unavoidable are not covered by the labelling directive. Genetic engineering is a very broad field, and even when organisations, producers, and retailers use the term "GMO-free", genetic engineering often is involved nonetheless. Therefore, even supermarkets with no products labelled as GMOs may not be free from all types of genetic engineering.

Examples of this are:

  • Meat, milk, egg, and other animal products from animals fed GM plants. Annually, the EU imports 35 to 40 million tonnes of soy primarily for use as animal feed. Commercially available soy-based feeds generally contain 40-60 percent material from GM plants.

  • Food enzymes produced with the help of GM microorganisms. Such enzymes are used in the production of cheese, baked goods, juices, wine, grape sugar, and glucose syrup.

  • Additives, vitamins, and flavours that are produced by GM microorganisms. These substances do not require labelling if they do not possess content from the GM microorganism from which they were produced.


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


GMO Soybeans & Sustainability

Less soil erosion and fuel consumption: herbicide tolerant soybeans are promoting sustainable cultivation methods.


Glyphosate in European agriculture

Interview with a farmer

Glyphosate containing herbicides are not only used in fields with GM crops. They also allow conventional farmers to sow directly into stubble fields without ploughing. Glyphosate has replaced mechanical weed control in many crops and has had an important impact on agricultural practices and crop yields in Europe over the past few decades.

European Glyphosate Task Force

January 23, 2007 [nach oben springen]

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