European Parliament: limiting GMOs in organic foods to 0.1 percent

The European Parliament has called for tighter limits on the amount of GMOs in organic products in comparison to conventional foods. The MEPs have voted on a proposal for a regulation on organic food production. In the amendment, they have requested that organic products have a threshold of 0.1 percent for GMOs (generally considered as the quantification limit of the detection methods). Conversely, the European Commission favours a common threshold of 0.9 percent for GMOs in both conventional and organic products.

The European Regulation on organic farming (2092/91) currently defines that no genetically modified organisms may be used in the production of organic foods. However, according to the European Regulations on the labelling of GMOs (1829/20003/EC, 1830/2003/EC), the presence of GMOs in conventional foods is exempted of labelling below a threshold of 0.9 percent of fortuitous or technically unavoidable presence. According to the Commission, this threshold also applies to organic foods, permitting the adventitious presence of 0.9 percent GMO.

"Organic farming principles, objectives and rules exclude the use and the presence of GMO in all organic processes and products. It is therefore important to adopt national and EU legislation which guarantees that contamination with GMOs does not take place," states the amendment of the European Parliament. However, the role of the European Parliament is consultative. The final decision will be made in the European Council by the Ministers of Agriculture on the basis of a proposal from the Commission.

Consumer and environmental organisations have interpreted the decision of the European Parliament as a vote for the lowest possible GM thresholds. 0.1 percent is considered as the quantification limit of the current detection methods). Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the European Environmental Bureau called the result "a clear indication from European elected representatives that the right to GM-free food is non-negotiable."