A new report released by the EFA Group in the European Parliament shows that a majority of European consumers think genetically modified foods should have compulsory labeling.
This follows a 2018 landmark decision after a decade of debate in Europe over gene-editing technology like Cripsr-Cas9, which health experts believe could pose a public health risk.
In the Ipsos report, when polled, most Europeans say they want products that contain crops that have been genetically modified to be labeled. But, the industry says it can’t be implemented.
The survey asked thousands of citizens their views on GM crops, including GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and GE crops, which are gene-edited using new techniques.
For those that had heard of these technologies, 86% said they want GMOs to be clearly labeled, and 68% said they want food containing GE crops to be labeled.
Furthermore, only 40% of consumers said they had prior knowledge of GE crops, and 78% of those surveyed said they were aware of GM crops.
At the moment, EU legislation says that GM food needs to be labeled as such, and the packaging needs to state that it’s “genetically modified” or “produced from genetically modified [name of the organism]”. Products that aren’t packaged need to have a notice nearby.
However, this has been disputed by a number of MEPs and major players in the food industry, who want the laws to be amended to exclude GE crops from labeling rules.
For example, MEP Herbert Dorfmann, agriculture coordinator of Europe’s People Party (EPP), said, “In my opinion, labeling is simply not possible and [without regulating gene editing] we will have plants, seeds that will come from outside Europe, where we don’t know which technology of genetic improvement was applied.”
The Greens and EFA say that consumers have a right to know how their food is produced and that labeling is essential to maintain “freedom of choice and transparency”.
They added that not including this information on labels could risk “eroding consumer confidence in organic food” and could harm EU food production and consumption.
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