Seeds of distrust spur GMO labeling bills
It was 10 years ago this past April that rules for the mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms came into effect for all member countries of the European Union.
Beat Späth, director of Green Biotechnology at EuropaBio says he’s not sure there is anything for the U.S. to learn from the European model. “We don’t have a position or any efforts from outside to change the policy in Europe, but it may not be an ideal system for the U.S.,” Späth says. “If there is a decision to go for some kind of GMO labeling in the U.S., the details will determine the impact.”
Food safety was one of the primary reasons why mandatory labeling was introduced in the EU. Späth says many Europeans had lost trust in the food industry following the BSE or mad cow disease crisis in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and felt public institutions hadn’t done enough to protect them.
“In the past few years, there’s been an awful lot of unjustified criticism of the European Food Safety Authority,” Späth says. “It looks like trust has been reduced in the past few years. GMOs are really one of the scapegoats. A lot of people are worried despite the fact our food has never been safer, and that’s been proven over and over — GMOs in particular.”