July 26, 2011
Regulators from more than 100 countries agreed to label guidelines today that will make it easier for food manufacturers to say whether their products contain genetically modified ingredients.
Until now, objections from the U.S. had presented roadblocks to such labels. But the new agreement means that any country wishing to adopt genetically modified food labeling will no longer face the threat of a legal challenge from the World Trade Organization.
Samuel Ochieng, President Emeritus of Consumers International, said that while the agreement fell short of the consumer movement’s long-held demand for mandatory labeling, that it was still a milestone. “This guidance is extremely good news for the worlds’ consumers who want to know what is in the foods on their plates.”
Michael Hansen, Ph.D., senior scientist at Consumers Union and lead representative of Consumers International to the Geneva meeting, said that labeling genetically modified foods is important in part because it allows consumers to report allergic or other adverse reactions to regulators.
Edita Vilcapoma, of the Peruvian consumer group ASPEC and another representative of Consumers International at the meeting, said that the new agreement secures the right of the consumer to be informed about genetically modified foods.