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GM Labeling Allowed Worldwide

GM Labeling Allowed Worldwide

Consumers everywhere, rejoice! After a two-decade struggle against the powers-that-be, they have succeeded this week in having the Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international body created in 1963 by FAO and WHO, adopt the labeling of genetically modified (GM) food. The decision by over 100 countries was confirmed this week at the annual Codex summit in Geneva, Switzerland. Credit has been largely attributed to the ceaseless efforts of Consumers International, a UK-based non-profit with a 220+-member-organization-strong global network.

What does this announcement amount to? From now on, any country is free to adopt GM-foods labeling without running afoul of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) “restraint of trade” rules. An immediate impact, for instance, is that Peru, whose Consumer Code made GMO-labeling mandatory within its borders as of April 2010, is now free of any threat of a legal challenge from the WTO.

Let’s note that the text does not intend to uphold the consumers’ right to know what’s in the food they consume, but rests rather on the need to allow governments’ “post-market monitoring” of the effects of GM organisms on public health. This distinction is important since that’s what paved the way for the United States to finally drop its long-held opposition to the global GM-labeling guidelines. What it means, in practice, is that any national legislation or regulation on GM labeling must necessarily refer to the “scientific uncertainty of risks” and consequent need for surveillance, and not stand on consumers’ rights.

“The adopted text confirms that Codex labeling texts developed for foods generally also apply to foods derived from modern biotechnology,” an Obama Administration official said according to The Hill, adding that “this adopted text clarifies that foods derived from modern biotechnology are not necessarily different from other foods simply due to their method of production” (a direct reference to the sentence on which the United States hinged its final support).

The new Codex Alimentarius guidelines open the door to voluntary GM labeling, which some critics argue is a far cry from a mandatory system–the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica and Australia blocked that initiative at the Codex Committee on Food Labelling’s (CCFL) 39th session held in Quebec City, Canada, last May; click here for more background info on the drawn-out negotiation process.

Nevertheless, the new text certainly constitutes a step in the right direction. It is now up to consumers everywhere to mobilize and demand GM labeling of their governments. The door is wide open.

Read more: Blogs, Food, News & Issues, The Green Plate, ,

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Laetitia Mailhes

Laetitia Mailhes is a French-born journalist. After many years as the technology and innovation correspondent of the French "Financial Times" in San Francisco, she decided to focus on what truly matters to her: sustainable food and farming. Find more articles and videos on her blog, The Green Plate Blog.

36 comments

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4:07PM PST on Nov 22, 2012

Thank you,noted.

12:22AM PDT on Jul 24, 2012

Good and important news. Thank you.

12:39PM PDT on May 28, 2012

A step in the right direction- no more being liked to. tired of seeing "natural" on label

2:22AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Well, a very small step, but they are alwAys one step ahead of everybody, because that's the way big corporations, the military and much of the agricultural industry work...it's not necessarily the effect of the food on people but the effect on the while food chain. Look at what was found out about Monsanto and the direct, deadly effect on honey bees. Then, they bought outnthe research company! How can they be allowed to? Because, governments have big money invested in these companies. Petrochemical, pharmaceutical and all the other sectors, run and control governments, if we allow them to. It's really about people actually waking up and being educated to what actually is going on in the world. And in our name! What's more! It is all huge conspiracy and is shrouded in great darkness. This darkness will eat the whole of the human race and ruin this beautiful garden thatvwe were given and entrusted to safeguard. Wake up and wake up quickly......it's happening exponentially in both directions. Light and dark, but let's fight for the light and truth and for our children!

3:43AM PDT on May 2, 2012

good news

3:24AM PST on Nov 24, 2011

“this adopted text clarifies that foods derived from modern biotechnology are not necessarily different from other foods simply due to their method of production"
So how did they get a Patent???????????????????????????
I'm not one of the smartest persons in the world, how does this make sense to others?

3:00AM PST on Nov 24, 2011

Oh boy I just came across this after reading HeartMath's "Science of Thanksgiving Gratitude: 4 Real Benefits," and am I in trouble, I can feel myself going out of balance after reading this. I learn from this that there was an actual global conspiracy to poison people.
"any country is free to adopt GM-foods labeling without running afoul of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) “restraint of trade” rules."

7:55PM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

This is a baby step...we need mandatory labeling.

9:06PM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Avoid the GM.

11:42AM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

Agree with Eternal Gardener: make it mandatory!!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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