Brussels, 16 April 2002
A European Commission information campaign is necessary to inform the public of the risks and benefits of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), according to the Economic and social committee (ESC).
In an opinion on the Commission's proposals for the traceability and labelling of GM produce, the committee says information from independent bodies about GMOs in food, animal feed and the environment would help people make informed choices about the foods they eat and the technologies used to produce them.
The opinion, adopted in March, adds that the introduction of traceability and labelling regulations will increase authorities' ability to carry out checks and make it easier to research the long-term effects of genetically-modified food.
The ESC states that existing legislation in this area does not fully ensure consumers' right to be informed and make informed choices. It warns that some areas of the proposal remain unclear, such as differentiating between products which use GMOs in the manufacturing process and those which are manufactured from GMOs. The committee also calls for urgent clarification of the liability regime for environmental damage caused by GMOs and accidental contamination of organic farming, describing the current lack of clarity in this area as 'unacceptable.' But the ESC does welcome the increased transparency for both food and feed that the new regulations will introduce.
The committee also warns against higher prices created by the introduction of new requirements being passed on to the consumer. It says any additional costs should be borne by GM producers and produce rather than traditional products.
For further information on the ESC and to view the original document, please consult the following web address: http://www.ces.eu.int