Labeling is an Essential Element in Achieving Consumer Acceptance of Genetically Modified Foods


Just Label It! Oh yeah, that’s the ticket! Want GMOs (genetically modified / engineered organisms) out of your food supply? Like the UK – Just Label It!

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In a pig’s eye! Pay close attention to item 15:

Memorandum by United Biscuits (UK) Limited

International food business operating in 21 countries. It has leading market positions in the UK, Continental Europe and is building its presence in Asia. It has 46 manufacturing sites world-wide and its products are available in over 90 countries. Over 20,000 are employed worldwide of which 16,000 are based in the UK.


15. As a food manufacturer UB has considerable interest in the regulation of labelling of GM foods. We believe that the provision of information to consumers, including appropriate product labelling, is an essential element in achieving consumer acceptance of genetically modified foods.

16. The fact that comprehensive EU labelling regulations were not agreed before genetically modified soya and maize appeared on the market is a major reason why these products—and indeed the whole principle of genetically modifying foods—have attracted extremely negative media coverage and increasing consumer hostility. The problems caused by the delays in agreeing these regulations, and before them the novel food regulations, should not be underestimated. Delays in implementation of regulations continue, neither a deminimus threshold nor list of exempt ingredients has been established and yet the regulation is to be law from 1 September 1998.

17. We welcome the fact that EU regulations have finally been made on the labelling of GM soya and maize. Whilst these effectively reinterpret the concept of “substantial equivalence” set out in the novel food regulations, and thereby once more apply a different standard for genetically modified foods compared with other novel foods, we recognise that this was a pragmatic solution given the prevailing political environment.

18. The vast majority of UB products including all of McVitie’s biscuits, McVitie’s Prepared Foods and KP snack products do not contain GM soya or maize material which we believe would trigger labelling. However, as stated above (point 16) there remains lack of clarity regarding what the trigger point is. Of the small number of UB products which we believe will trigger labelling under the above rules, most are already being labelled under the voluntary industry guidelines which were agreed in January 1998 in the absence of progress at EU level. We will progressively introduce labelling of the rest by the 1 September deadline.

19. Whilst the EU regulations are an important step forwards it is imperative that the threshold levels for adventitious contamination are agreed and analytical methods developed as a priority so that the regulations can be properly enforced. It should be recognised that as detection methods become increasingly sensitive, threshold levels should not be reduced accordingly.


20. As already mentioned we believe that both the well established UK system and now the EU regulations satisfactorily ensure the safety of genetically modified organisms. However, in some regards they put Europe at a disadvantage compared with the US and others.

21. Ideally regulation of genetic modification in agriculture should be harmonised at an international level and a risk-based approach should be adopted. This should be achieved through the Codex Alimentarius Commission although the time that body takes to research decisions raises serious questions about its effectiveness.

16 July 1998

And some think that ‘labeling GMOs’ is a tactic originally conceived by anti-GMO activists. BALONEY! Can we say ‘smoking gun?’

Just in case you missed it:

15. As a food manufacturer UB has considerable interest in the regulation of labelling of GM foods. We believe that the provision of information to consumers, including appropriate product labelling, is an essential element in achieving consumer acceptance of genetically modified foods.

This was being bandied about in 1998.

Fast forward to 2014:

GM crops and foods in Britain and Europe

GM crops enter Britain mainly as animal feed. There is no commercial growing, but there have been experimental trials of GM potatoes and wheat in recent years. In 2014, a trial of GM Camila sativa (“false flax”) is planned, which has a genetically altered oil content (high in omega-3).

GM crops and food can enter Europe as food, animal feed, or biofuels. GM food and feed must be approved by EU regulators and must be labeled, but meat and dairy products produced from animals fed on GM feed are not required to be labeled. In 2011, the EU decided to allow low levels of unapproved GM crops in animal feed. GM crops can be grown experimentally with approval from national regulators, or commercially if approved by the EU.

Decisions on GM crop cultivation are currently made at EU level but in 2010, the European Commission proposed that approvals could be speeded up if countries were allowed to make national decisions on whether to grow them or not (the “opt out” proposal). In 2014, the “opt out” proposal for GM crop cultivation was revived by UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who worked with the industry to develop a version which could fast-track RoundUp Ready GM crops into England and some other countries (especially Spain). This proposal was adopted by the Environment Council but later amended by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee to strengthen the legal basis for countries wishing to ban GM, increase democratic accountability, improve protections for the environment, and require national laws on co-existence and liability to protect GM-free farming and limit cross-border contamination. The proposal is expected to be adopted in 2015 following further discussion with parliament and member states.

Labeling is the camel’s nose under the tent. Acceptance through labeling, then crop cultivation based on that acceptance. From importation and labeling to acceptance and cultivation, leading to increased contamination and subsequent threshold increases. That is the way it is being played out in the UK. The US however, is already flooded with GMOs and just starting down the labeling campaign to quell the rising tide of people wanting a ban on the entire GMO catastrophe.

“Labeling is an essential element in achieving consumer acceptance of genetically modified foods.”

Want acceptance? Just Label It!

Understand this:

The Just Label It! campaign was not created to ban GMOs. It was created to gain their acceptance. A hard nut to swallow, but essential.

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One Response

  1. Ed Butt says:

    Product information on UB packets is smaller than the small print on an insurance policy. For labelling to work it has to be like the health warnings on cigarette packets.
    And we in new media need to keep getting the message out because mainstream sources will never do it.

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