When it comes to labeling genetically modified (GM) food, the battle lines are usually clear: Those who oppose genetic engineering want it labeled, and those who support it see no need. But today, a group of German scientists and other proponents of GM organisms launched a campaign to require labeling of anything that contains or has been produced with the help of GM organisms.
Their unusual plea is a political gamble; rather than making it more difficult for GM products to reach consumers, they hope the new law will show Germans just how widespread such products already are—whether it’s in food, clothes, drugs, or washing powder—and that there is nothing to be afraid of.
The petition to the German parliament, which will go online May 19, asks the German government to prepare a law that requires GM labeling for all food, feed, drugs, textiles, chemicals, and other products that have been produced using genetic engineering. The petition also calls on the government to advocate a similar law at the E.U. level.
Germany already requires GM crops to be labeled as such; the same is true for foods produced directly from them, such as oil made from GM soy beans. Yet many products in which genetic modification played an indirect role require no labeling. Pork can be certified GM-free, for instance, if the animals didn’t eat GM feed in the 4 months prior to slaughter. “The current system is inadequate and sometimes even misleading,” Rehberger says.
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