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Genetically modified organisms — traceability and labelling

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Genetically modified organisms — traceability and labelling

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EC) No 1830/2003 on the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the traceability of food and feed products produced from GMOs

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THE REGULATION DO?

It puts in place rules to ensure products containing GMOs* and food and animal feed derived from them can be traced at all stages of the production and distribution chain.

The rules cover labelling, monitoring environmental and health risks, and the ability to withdraw products where necessary.

KEY POINTS

Traceability

Traceability (the ability to track GMOs and products produced from GMOs at all stages of the production and distribution chain) is key in providing consumers and the food trade with information and safeguards about food/feed derived from GMOs. It allows them to make informed choices based on accurate labelling.

There are 3 main requirements for sellers:

  • inform trade buyers in writing that a product contains GMOs (or provide a ‘declaration of use’ for products intended for food or animal feed).
  • communicate the unique identifiers assigned to each GMO under the regulation.
  • (for food and feed) identify each ingredient produced from GMOs, if an ingredients list exists.

This information should be provided at every stage in the production and distribution chain and kept for 5 years.

Labelling

Final consumer packaging or pre-packaged products containing GMOs should be labelled: ‘This product contains genetically modified organisms [or the names of the organisms]’.

Inspection and checks

EU countries must carry out inspections, sample checks and tests, to ensure the rules on GMO labelling are followed.

Each country must also impose effective penalties for infringements. Products can be withdrawn if they have unforeseen adverse effects on health or the environment.

The national authorities are given technical guidance by the European Commission. The Commission keeps a central register of GMO reference material, used to detect GMOs authorised in the EU, as well as information on unauthorised GMOs.

Exemptions

  • A product may contain traces of GMOs (below 0.9 %), if this is technically unavoidable.
  • The regulation does not apply to medicinal products.

FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?

It has applied since 7 November 2003.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see Traceability and labelling – EU rules.

KEY TERM

* Genetically modified organisms – plants or animals bred to have higher yield or to resist disease, by modifying their cellular and genetic make-up.

ACT

Regulation (EC) No 1830/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 concerning the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms and the traceability of food and feed products produced from genetically modified organisms and amending Directive 2001/18/EC (OJ L 268, 18.10.2003, pp. 24-28)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 1830/2003 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED ACTS

Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC — Commission Declaration (OJ L 106, 17.4.2001, pp. 1-39). See consolidated version.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Reviewing the decision-making process on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (COM(2015) 176 final of 22.4.2015)

last update 18.04.2016

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