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Labelling and traceability

Labelling of GMOs

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as well as food and feed which consist of, contain or are produced from GMOs must be labelled in accordance with EU Regulation (EC) No. 1830/2003. Seed stock from genetically modified plants must also be labelled, as must genetically modified cut flowers or genetically modified ornamental fish (if these could be placed on the market).

Labelling is not compulsory for products obtained from animals that have been fed using genetically modified feed. This also applies for food which contains up to a maximum of 0.9% of accidental or technically unavoidable traces of GMOs or derived materials. The operator concerned must prove that the appropriate steps have been taken to prevent the existence of GMO contamination in the latter case. The same applies to handling feed.

Traceability of GMOs

All food manufacturers and distributors must keep a record of both the destination of their goods and their raw material suppliers. This obligation applies to food in general; its purpose being to aid what is referred to as the traceability of foods “from field to fork” and “from fork to field”. The same applies to feed.

Under the rules set out in Regulation (EC) No. 1830/2003, the principle of traceability is also applicable to genetically modified organisms that are not used as food or feed, e.g. seed stock from genetically modified plants.

Labelling and traceability with unique identifiers

LMO quicklinks

Each GMO placed on the market in the EU (GMOs with marketing authorisation) is given its own unique identifier in order to ensure compliance with the obligations for the labelling and traceability of GMOs and genetically modified food and feed. A unique identifier is a code containing numbers and letters which provides information on the identity of the GMO. EU Regulation (EC) No. 65/2004 stipulates that GMOs must be labelled clearly. Practical examples include: MON-Ø4Ø32-6 for a genetically modified soya bean from the Monsanto company or FLO-40689-6 for a genetically modified carnation from the Florigen company.

All documents accompanying goods include this identifier or the GMO symbol throughout the whole production and distribution chain, from the manufacturer to the end consumer. This includes, for example, delivery notes. A GMO product is completely traceable with this identifier, all the way back to its point of origin.

The traceability enabled by identifiers is particularly significant for products such as oils or sugar, which no longer contain any traceable DNA (genetic material) as these can only be identified using the identifier indicated in the documents.

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