One Million Europeans Demand Extended GM Labelling

On February 5th, the environmental organisation Greenpeace handed over a petition to Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health, demanding the labelling of foods derived from animals fed with GMOs. One million citizens from 21 EU member states have signed the petition.

Greenpeace presents one million signatures in Brussels. (Photo: Greenpeace)
Greenpeace presents one million signatures in Brussels. (Photo: Greenpeace)
Under current EU law, labelling is required for foods and feeds containing at least one ingredient which consists of more than 0.9 percent of GMOs. For the labelling, only the origin matters – it is irrelevant, whether GMOs can still be detected in the final product. However, milk, meat and eggs, as well as all foods derived from animals fed with GMOs, are exempted from the labelling.

Greenpeace considers this a “vast“ loophole in the legislation: “This petition is a call for the EU to stop letting GMOs in through the back door of Europe and onto our plates through a loophole in the law,” said Marco Contiero, of Greenpeace European Unit. Thus, by signing the petition, the EU citizens have stated: “We demand mandatory labelling on animal products based on GMOs because of citizens’ right to information, a fundamental right in the EU.”

At a news conference, Commissioner Kyprianou responded that “clearly, the number of signatures on this petition shows the strength of public feeling on the issue of GMOs in animal feed.“ He also said that “the Commission always tries to listen to citizens and I want to reassure people that we shall look again at this issue.“

The number of petitioners is not only impressive but also has a symbolic implication. As Greenpeace points out, the currently stalled proposal for the EU Constitution states in Article I-47(4): “not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the Commission […] to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Constitution“.