Consumers will continue to be none the wiser about whether they are eating food from animals raised on genetically-modified feed after MEPs voted against introducing a compulsory label rule.
There is currently no requirement on the food industry to label meat or dairy products produced using GM animal feed, usually made from GM soya or maize. However, campaigners have argued that consumers should be given a choice about whether or not to buy such produce.
A recent poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth found that less than 40 per cent of the public was aware that GM was creeping onto their plates via imported GM cereals and protein crops fed to livestock in the UK. Almost 90 per cent of those surveyed wanted these products to be clearly labelled.
Genewatch director Dr Helen Wallace said consumers should be 'given a choice' and blamed the vote against labelling on lobbying from the food industry.
'They want consumer decisions to focus on the end product you see on the shelf and not the wider issues,' she said.
The vote against feed labelling comes as the EU commission prepares to approve the import of six new GM maize varieties after lobbying by biotech firms Syngenta and Monsanto.
Renewed calls for cloning ban
Campaigners may take some heart from another vote by MEPs in favour of a ban on meat and dairy products from cloned animals and a moratorium on foods using nanotechnology until potential health risks can be ruled out.
At present there are no specific rules covering either cloned food or nano-sized ingredients or processes, although nanotechnology is already being used in food and food packaging.
Although MEPs voted in favour of the ban, the EU Council must still approve the decision. It has previously rejected calls for a ban by MEPs, hence the need for a second vote, and is said to be in favour of simply 'regulating' food from cloned animals. A final decision on both issues is expected this autumn.
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