News 382 views last update:Sep 4, 2007

Finnish ministers stir up GM meat debate

In the interests of consumer rights, Finnish politicians are encouraging a debate over labelling of meat products from animals fed with genetically modified feed.

Under European Union regulations meat from animals fed imported GM feed does not need to be labelled as GM and the feed origin does not need to be identified.

But when, this month, two Finnish meat producers, LSO Foods and Lounais-farmi, declared their intention to import GM soybeans for use as pig feed, agriculture minister Sirkka-Liisa Anttilahat of the Suomen Keskusta party called on the food industry to label use of GM feed on meat products.

"Consumers must have the right to know how, and with what sort of feed, meat is produced," she said.

The minister has also mooted the idea of a working group to address labelling of meat from animals not raised on genetically modified feed, amongst other issues.

Economical reasons
Many Finns do not approve the use of GM feed, according to a recently held survey. However the meat companies' decision to shift to GM soy is understandable from a financial point of view.

There is already a gulf between the cost of non-GM and GM soy, and that gulf is continuing to grow as more and more soy producers in Brazil switch to GM varieties.

No isolated decision
According to Finland's Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) support voluntary labelling of food products to indicate any use of GM products in the production chain.

But they added that such a measure could not be taken by Finland in isolation from the rest of the EU, since it would put domestic produce at a significant disadvantage to unlabelled imports. For now, however, a pan-EU change looks unlikely.

Source: Foodproductiondaily.com

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