German chems say biotech labelling of food misleads consumers

07 October 2010 17:20  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Germany’s current biotech labelling for food products is misleading and should be reformed, the country’s chemical producers’ trade group said on Thursday.

Deutsche Industrievereinigung Biotechnologie (DIB), the biotech industry arm of Germany’s chemical producers trade group VCI, said that the country’s label of “ohne Gentechnik” (without gene technology) on food products was misleading and deceived consumers.

It cited a study by Bavaria's University of Bayreuth, which found that consumers were under the impression that food carrying the label had not been in contact with biotechnology.

That, however, was not the case, as the current rules provided for a number of exceptions that allowed food products to carry the label even when gene-technology processes were applied somewhere along the production chain, the study said.

Stefan Marcinowski, a BASF executive board member who heads VCI’s biotech group, urged comprehensive and unambiguous labelling requirements for food products to avoid such ambiguity.

“Consumer choice assumes transparent information and unambiguous labelling – a standard the current rules do not meet,” he said.

Consumers needed to know what was in the product and not what was not in the product, he added.

The group called for a “positive labelling” requirement, not only in Germany but throughout the EU.

VCI stressed that biotechnology products were only marketed after stringent reviews by authorities to ensure that they were safe for people, animals and the environment.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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