The Codex Alimentarius Commission is the UN body responsible for setting global food standards.
'Many countries have now put comprehensive mandatory labeling requirements firmly in place... the decisions that labeling must be allowed have already been taken. It is high time those who have been opposing labeling in Codex recognised this fact. A sensible text, which allows flexibility for countries to define how they want to do their own labeling, was drawn up several years ago. Let's just get on and adopt it!' - Julian Edwards, Consumers International's Director-General
Consumer advocates urge Codex to accept labeling of GM foods
The global voice for consumers
La voix des consommateurs Ã travers le monde u La voz global para la defensa de los consumidores
London: Consumers International (CI), the global federation of consumer organisations, will strongly endorse the labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods at the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Food Labelling in Montreal from 10-14 May. The CI delegation will be joined by consumers and environmental advocates from Canada, India, the UK and the USA.
Julian Edwards, CI's Director-General is heavily critical of the lack of progress made by the Committee on the issue of GM labelling. He comments:
'For ten years the Committee has been procrastinating on this issue. A small group of governments, led by the US, refuse to recognise that responding to consumer interests is the main purpose the Codex committee should be serving. The continuing impasse is created entirely by producer and trade concerns.'
'Meanwhile the world is moving on and making the committee irrelevant. Many countries have now put comprehensive mandatory labeling requirements firmly in place - most recently the EU and Brazil. These countries will not accept a Codex ruling that effectively outlaws what they have already implemented. So the decisions that labeling must be allowed have already been taken. It is high time those who have been opposing labeling in Codex recognised this fact. A sensible text, which allows flexibility for countries to define how they want to do their own labeling, was drawn up several years ago. Let's just get on and adopt it!'
Mr Edwards will be at a joint press conference with Canadian consumer organisation Option Consommateurs, l'Union des Consommateurs and Greenpeace Canada to be held on Monday morning, May 10, before the start of the Codex session.
The press conference will present the results of two surveys to Canadians and Quebekers on the labelling of GM foods products. In both cases there were large majorities in favour of labelling. The provincial government of Quebec has announced it will adopt a regulation on labelling if the federal government does not.
Option Consommateurs, l'Union des Consommateurs and Greenpeace stress the importance of the minimum threshold for labelling (less than the 5% in the current voluntary standard in Canada) and of a traceability system. They call on Canada as host of the Codex meeting to listen to the voices of consumers.
About Codex Alimentarius
The Codex Alimentarius Commission is the UN body responsible for setting global food standards. Codex was created in 1963 by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts. Codex aims to protect the health of the consumers, ensure fair trade practices in the food trade and promote coordination of all food standards work.
Codex operates through committees tasked with specific aspects of food safety. The 32nd session of the Committee on Food Labelling meets in Montreal, Canada from 1-14 May.
About Consumers International Ensuring safe food for all is the most critical element of the consumer agenda. Consumers International and member organisations have campaigned on a wide range of food issues including baby food, biotechnology, pesticide use and food irradiation.
CI has been involved with Codex for over 20 years, acting to ensure that the decisions taken are in the best interests of consumers. CI has played a major role in promoting consumer representation at Codex. As a result, consumer participation is now regarded as an essential when setting international food standards. CI has developed materials and training on Codex to develop the skills of consumer organisations in developing and transition countries. Many consumer organisations are now active in their National Codex Committees and consulted by their governments when formulating country positions