NFPA Calls EU Adoption of Biotech Labeling and Traceability Requirements “A New Brick Wall Blocking International Trade”

Contact: Timothy Willard (202/637-8060)
Libby Mikesell (202/639-5919)

(Washington, D.C.) – In response to the formal adoption by the European Union’s Council of Ministers on July 22 of new requirements for labeling and traceability of foods and feeds that contain genetically modified ingredients, John R. Cady, President and CEO of the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), made the following comments:

“These new required labels and traceability rules erect a new brick wall blocking the free international trade in food and food products. The EU has elected to turn away from food science and food safety to establish yet another trade barrier that will keep many U.S. food products out of the European market.

“Because there is no safety or nutrition issue associated with the products of agricultural biotechnology on the market, there is no scientific basis for requiring the labeling of biotech foods. Moreover, such labels on food products will be seen as ‘warning labels’ by European consumers. In essence, the requirements ensure that these products are unlikely to enter the European market, thereby actually denying consumer access to the products of agricultural biotechnology.

“NFPA opposes ‘process-based’ labeling, such as these new biotech labeling requirements. Mandatory labeling should be based on the composition, intended use, and health and safety characteristics of a food product, not on the ‘genetic process’ from which it was derived.

“The traceability requirements are so complex and detailed that they equate to the process for handling nuclear waste. What perception will such a process, applied to food, bring about in the minds of European consumers?

“This new labeling scheme and traceability process sets the stage for another World Trade Organization legal case that will take years to resolve. This is a bad decision by the EU. NFPA urges the EU to reconsider these new requirements, so that a new and unnecessary barrier to trade is not established. And we will work with the U.S. Trade Representative to make sure that the World Trade Organization understands the problem these new requirements will pose, and request the WTO to take appropriate action to resolve this issue.”