Label will now be printed in large print

Additional labelling requirements for genetically modified products were introduced in the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union on 26 December, according to an article in the Belarus news service BelTA, which cites as its source the press service of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC). The EEC is the governing body of the Eurasian Economic Space. Member states are Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

“New standards included in the EAEU food labelling regulation will help buyers to make the right choice of food products. The GMO label will now be printed in large print next to the Eurasian Conformity mark. The GMO label must correspond in shape and size to the Eurasian Conformity mark,” the EEC explained.

The announcement came within days of the publication of the US Dept of Agriculture's new rule that companies to disclose GMO content to American consumers via electronic means such as barcodes or a phone number, rather than clear on-package labelling. Dr Michael Hansen of the pro-transparency NGO Consumer Reports said that the rule "will likely keep many consumers in the dark about whether the food they buy has been genetically engineered".

The Eurasian Economic Union changes were developed by the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor), taking into account consumers' wishes. “The document passed all necessary procedures, including public hearings and interstate coordination in the EAEU countries and was adopted at a meeting of the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission in December 2017. Twelve months were given to business to adjust to the new requirements,” the press service said.

The previous technical regulation on labelling food products obliged manufacturers to inform customers about the use and content of GMOs (over 0.9%) by labelling them with the words “genetically modified products”, “products derived from genetically modified organisms”, or “products contain components of genetically modified organisms”. However, manufacturers gave this information in small print and in difficult-to-spot places, which made it difficult for customers to notice this information on the packaging.

The new technical regulation requires that the GMO sign is easily readable and visible during the shelf-life of a food product.

“The EEC Board issued a resolution on 10 May this year to set a transition period of 18 months during which manufacturers are allowed to make food products with the use of GMOs and provide this information to customers in accordance with the mandatory labelling requirements. The turnover of such products is permitted during the expiry period specified by the manufacturer,” the EEC said.