Codex to discuss GM food labels

Related tags Codex alimentarius Food United nations

New international standards for GM labels could be on the way as a
meeting of the United Nations' Codex Alimentarius committee on food
labelling kicks off in Malaysia this week.

While Europe boasts some of the toughest labelling rules for genetically modified ingredients in the world, other countries have resisted imposing regulations on GM labels.

But the subject is certain to play a major role in talks this week, as consumer groups worldwide concerned about the long term impact of GM foods on health call for greater transparency of biotech foodstuffs.

Created in 1963 by UN bodies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation, Codex Alimentarius develops food standards and guidelines for codes of practice in the global food chain.

Key principles embodied in Codex are consumer protection, fair practice in the sale of food, and facilitating trade.

The UN-backed group came under attack recently when consumer organisations said Codex Alimentarius was failing hem.

Just 32 out of 211 consumer organisations responded to a survey from Consumers International (CI), from which CI concluded that national Codex consultations are influenced by industry lobbyists more than consumer representatives.

"Our main concern is that the voice of consumer groups is not heard,"​ a spokesperson for the UK-based group told at the time.

But while the consumer groups claim Codex could do much for them, other stakeholders show strong support.

"If there are differences at a national consultation level - money, tradition, infrastucture - is that the fault of Codex?"​ queried food lawyer Raymond O'Rourke.

Defenders of Codex say it has played, and still plays, a crucial role in providing an administrative back-up on food standards for developing countries, notably for ministries implementing from a zero base a framework for food safety law.

Related topics Ingredients

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