During the last years, GMO-fee labelling has systematically spread across Europe. Countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Luxemburg, Switzerland and Slovenia have already developed their own autonomous labelling systems; additional countries in the CEE region are currently working on it. However, the labelling systems in some aspects considerably differ from each other and do not offer the European consumers in the EU member countries a standardised system.
Since its founding in 1997, ARGE Gentechnik-frei is European pioneer for the production, monitoring and labelling of GMO-free food. The Austrian system, which has been tested in practice for many years already, is rightly attributed as European benchmark and standard.
Due to the partly significant differences between the systems, the VLOG e.V. and ARGE Gentechnik-frei commissioned the Austrian Environmental Agency to produce a comparative in 2012. The report clearly shows: The differences are concealed in the details. Already the different legal forms make a comparison hard. One thing that unites all systems is that they are voluntary additional labels. Main differences can be found in the consideration of the production levels, in the limits in the accepted impurity and also in the transition periods for the changes in animal feeding with GMO-free feed. The Austrian system stands out from the other systems especially due to its compulsory controls by accredited external monitoring bodies; this is an important measure for transparency and traceability. The VLOG e.V. in Germany is also aware of this fact: Since November 2013, external controls have been made compulsory for those who want to use the German label „Without GMO“.
You can download the full study report: Comparison of regulatory frameworks of Austria, Germany, France, and South Tyrol for GM free labelling of food products; Umweltbundesamt (October 2012)
European Harmonization is necessary
The variety of labelling systems and especially the differences between them make it clear: for the sake of consumers, producers and traders, a pan-European harmonisation of GMO-free labelling is urgently needed!
ARGE Gentechnik-frei works towards this goal on different levels: by closely cooperating with other labelling systems, by founding the umbrella association Euro GMO-free as well as by participating in the “EU-wide Consultation Process on Programs for ‘GMO-free’ Labelling of Food and of the Evaluation of the Need for a Possible Harmonization”, initiated by the European Commission in Summer 2012. Currently there is no published information from the pan-European study available yet.