EU Backs Tough Food Labeling

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday for a tough regulatory regime to ensure genetically modified (GM) food is labeled and can be traced from farm to fork, Reuters News Service reported.

The draft regulation, which must also be approved by

European Union governments, is the last of a set of EU rules designed to ease consumers' health and environmental concerns about GM organisms.

The rules are likely to irk farmers in the United States

where GM crops are widely grown and treated in much the same ways as conventional strains.

The new rules, passed in a first reading, would require any food and animal feed sold in the EU to carry a label alerting consumers to the presence of GM ingredients.

This applies even if genetically altered material cannot be identified in tests because it has been destroyed through processing, as in the case of oils and sugars.

A U.S. government official understandably expressed disappointment with the decision.

"Regrettably the European Parliament has chosen to ignore our repeated expressions of concern that the...proposals were unworkable, costly and subject to fraud," the unidentified U.S. official told Reuters. The new rules would "seriously impair" trade in GM crops, he added.