Greenpeace: EU's GE-label fools consumers

Berlin 31 August 1998 --- The labelling scheme of the European Union
entering into force tomorrow, September first, is designed to tranquillise
critics rather than to inform consumers said Greenpeace today.

"A labelling that excludes majority of the products is a fake. This scheme
fails in the very basic requirement, which is to inform the consumers. If
European Commission had been serious about labelling they would have
learned from the Dutch experience," said Greenpeace spokesperson
Benedikt Haerlin.

A Greenpeace poll published today in the Netherlands shows that despite a
mandatory labelling introduced about a year ago about 75 percent of the
Dutch consumers did not know that genetically engineered food have
entered the markets in their country. According to the poll conducted by
NIPO Market Research Institute only three percent of Dutch consumers
had noticed the label. There are about 15 products containing genetically
engineered ingredients in the Netherlands.

"Produced with the modern biotechnology" in small print hidden somewhere
in the package is a travesty of an informative labelling. We are now
distributing magnifying glasses to consumers in Germany as a protest", said

Exempted from the EU labelling requirements are all those products where
DNA or protein of the genetically engineered soybeans or maize can no
longer be detected. This applies to oils and fats and some starch products
as well as to all animals fed with genetically modified fodder. In addition
those products, where soy or maize derivatives are declared as additives
will also be exempted. This will for instance exempt all chocolates,
food and milk products containing lecithins.

"From tomorrow on consumers should have a clear choice whether to buy
or not to buy genetically engineered food. Unfortunately this choice will
restricted to less than ten percent of the goods that might be derived from
modified soybeans or maize. All together the new labelling rules are simply
fooling consumers. Industry and officials are losing their credibility in
eyes of the consumers and this is not going to help them," said Haerlin.

According to information collected by Greenpeace most of the products
which are subject to the new labelling rules are going to be kept free of
genetically engineered ingredients to avoid labelling. "Contrary to food
producers claim that it is not possible to segregate transgenic and
conventional crops segregation is obviously happening. It would work even
better, if we had better labelling rules," said Haerlin.

Products that have to be labelled under the new labelling include chips,
breakfast cereal and bread and other bakery products containing soya or
maize flower. Also soymilk, tofu and similar products would have to

More information:
Benedikt Haerlin, + 49-30-3088 9912

See also

Organic Consumers Association (OCA)
6101 Cliff Estate Rd., Little Marais, Minnesota 55614
Activist or Media Inquiries: (218) 226-4164,  Fax: (218) 226-4157
Ronnie Cummins E-mail:

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