Chalk up one more victory for the great champion of UK food standards and the interests of the consumer.
for more on Krebs and co: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/pants1.htm
UK food adviser says Europe GM rules "unworkable"
LONDON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Britain's food watchdog questioned European Union draft legislation aimed at calming consumer fears over gene-spliced foods on Thursday and called on the UK government to push for watered down proposals. The EU has asked governments to consider new draft rules on the labelling of genetically modified foods and ingredients derived from them to reassure European consumers, worried about food after a raft of health scares including mad cow disease.
The Food Standards Agency said proposals to label foods containing GM derivatives posed questions of "practicality, affordability and enforceability” -- a statement which was criticised by consumer groups for denying shoppers choice.
"(Our) discussions have again shown the difficulty of fully meeting consumers' information needs in this area,'' Sir John Krebs, the agency's chairman, said in a statement.
"The agency wants consumers to have real choice over the contents of their shopping basket, which can only result from labelling policies that are practical, affordable and enforceable.”
He said without issues such as the cost of the measures being resolved, the interests of British consumers would not be served.
UK public opinion has turned against GM, with many rejecting scientific reassurances after similar soothing words misled them about the risk of eating beef during Britain's BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) or mad cow crisis.
BSE was linked to a deadly human form in 1996.
Consumer groups said the agency's criticism would deny consumers the information about food they needed.
"We are appalled that the Food Standards Agency is not backing labelling proposals that could mean consumers would have clearer information about the use of GM derivatives in their food,'' Sue Davies at Britain's Consumer Association said.
"For example, consumers would be able to find out whether or not a product contains soya oil from GM soya.”
The National Consumer Council agreed, citing its report which said almost two-thirds of those polled thought it was important that food containing GM ingredients was labelled.
"I am frankly amazed that the FSA has decided not to support the extension of GM labelling to GM derivatives,'' Deidre Hutton, chairman of the national consumer council, said.
"It flies in the face of what we know consumers want.”