In a plenary session of the European Parliament on January13, an important vote took place which organically defines the procedure through which GMOs can be authorized in Europe.
At the same time, however, the law allows the various member states to limit or abolish genetically modified cultivations from their countries. The proposed modification of Directive 2001/18 of the European Parliament, and of that of the Council of March 12, 2001 was already approved during the third meeting of the Trilogue last December 10.
Upon close reading, Slow Food’s main impression is that the text submitted for final approval during the plenary session in part disregards the requests made by many who had hoped that the European Parliament and Council would perfect the proposal. Specifically, Slow Food has some legitimate doubts about the effective good nature of the proposal and about the fact that the best interests of farmers and citizens are really the central element of the adopted approach. You can read in our concerns about the recently approved text.
Here we will limit ourselves to discuss a question that we hold particularly at heart: obligatory labeling of food products that contain GMOs, the only instrument that citizens have when choosing what they buy. Thus we hope that the European Parliament and Commission plan to provide further measures on this topic.
Regarding the labeling question, Slow Food UK has recently completed an interesting investigation aimed at dealing with a concern shared by consumers: meat from animals that are raised with genetically modified feed is not labeled as such, but more and more citizens claim the right to know what is on their plate.
Slow Food UK sent an email to three of the main British supermarkets: Tesco, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s. The responses they received confirmed their fears. Morrisons, for example, responded “do not use genetically modified ingredients in any of [their] own brand products”, but then add that they are “unable to guarantee that GM animal feed is not used in the supply chain for meat and dairy products”. Similarly, Sainsbury defended itself saying that based upon the claim that “GM ingredients do not present any risks to human health.” Tesco, for its part, responded that “no longer guarantee that [their] own brand fresh and frozen poultry and eggs will be fed on a non-GM diet”, because “it is increasingly difficult for [the producers] to guarantee that the feed they use is entirely GM free”.
So be it. Even it was impossible to avoid GMO-free animal feed, by not labeling their products, convinced that they are perfectly safe and innocuous, these supermarkets and many others are denying a right that we consumers want and should have: the right to know what we have on our plates.
Slow Food UK is fighting a battle to affirm this right and asks us all to sign the on-line petition.