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U.S.-EU Consumer Groups Call For GMO Labeling and Ban on Antibiotics.

A coalition of consumer organizations from the United States and EU called for labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and a complete ban on the nonmedical use of antibiotics, including those used as growth promoters in livestock. Representing both government and nongovernmental organizations, more than 200 delegates gathered last week in Brussels during the second Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) to discuss food safety issues.

The call for mandatory labeling of GMO foods was a controversial issue with the consumer groups. In order to label, GMO crops like corn and soybeans must be segregated, and sources say this is neither possible nor commercially feasible.

Regarding antibiotics the group said humans are becoming resistant to the medical benefits of antibiotics because they are eating meat that contains growth-promoting antibiotics. Grain and feed companies argue the ban has no scientific justification and would make meat more expensive, damage the environment and distort competition. EU scientists are now considering banning other antibiotics and are expected to reach an overall opinion on the link between human resistance to antibiotics and their use in animal feed by the end of May, say sources.

A third thorny issue between the United States and EU is the use of the BST hormone in dairy cattle to boost production, which is legal in the United States but banned in the EU. An EU ban on BST is due to expire at the end of 1999 when it will came up for review. Consumer groups on both sides of the Atlantic supported the EU ban.

The TACD agreed on the following food safety issues: 1) dietary supplement ingredients should be subjected to a government safety review; 2) the EU should require mandatory nutrition labeling for food products similar to those used in the United States; 3) the collection and publication of data on pathogen contamination of foods should be institutionalized; and 4) sampling of products to include a wider range of pathogens should be expanded.

It appears that GMO labeling is a highly contentious issue the world over. Last week in Ottawa at a Codex Committee on Food Labeling meeting, the EU's proposals for mandatory labeling of all food products produced through biotechnology led to a stalemate on draft rules. A group of countries led by the United States opposed the labeling proposal. At the end of the meeting's session, the 53 countries represented could only agree to create a new working group to develop a further proposal for consideration at the next annual meeting.
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Comment:U.S.-EU Consumer Groups Call For GMO Labeling and Ban on Antibiotics.
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 3, 1999
Previous Article:Environmentalists Quit White House Food Safety Advisory Panel.
Next Article:Country-of-Origin Food Labels Costly and Ineffective, Says GAO.

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