Labels for food

Victor Guest vic at
Sat Sep 6 13:29:15 EDT 1997

I have edited out some of the material.

Welcome to the third issue of LABELS:  Linking Consumers and Producers.
Labeling products with respect to the sustainability of their production,
processing and transporting is a powerful tool for achieving more
environmentally sound, economically viable, biologically diverse and
socially just communities.  Please subscribe to the automated list serve if
you would like to receive a monthly edition of LABELS.  YOU WILL NOT
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contact Kathryn Clements at IATP, 612/870-3422, kclements at

LABELS:  Linking Consumers and Producers - Vol. 1, Number 3    August 22,

Table of Contents

    - GMO Labeling: Good For Business?
    - Dolphin Safe Label:  Safe From Compromise?
    - Mexico Looks To ISO 14000 Alternative
    - IFOAM To Launch Certification Logo
    - Textile Label Agreement Reached
    - Minnesota Promotes 'Minnesota Grown' Products
    - News Briefs
    - Events
    - Resources

Labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), now required in the
EU, may actually serve to expand the market presence of GMOs. The
European Parliament, on July 31, voted that genetically modified corn
and soybean seeds, feeds and foods containing GMOs  must be labeled with
the percentage of GMO content. If a food product  "may contain" a GMO,
it must be so labeled. Labeling of GMO-free food is  optional.  At press
time, the European Commission had not finalized either the compliance
date for GMO labeling nor information regarding  enforcement.

Consumer and environmental groups pushed for labeling as a way of
warning consumers of what the groups termed the unsafe or unproved
ramifications of GMOs in the food system. However, the GMO regulations
passed by the EU may serve to promote GMO use, rather than hinder it.
Food producers will most likely be only mildly inconvenienced by the
regulations - quite a contrast to the revolutionary effect GMO labeling
was anticipated to have on the food and biotechnology industry.

With the EU-wide labeling scheme in place, bans on GMO products underway
in France, Austria, Italy and Luxembourg will be nearly impossible to
uphold, thus improving market access.  The labeling scheme adopted by
the EU also laid to rest the possibility of segregating GMOs from
conventional products.  Segregating products was vehemently opposed by
U.S. exporters.  Segregating products, according to one study, would
have required fifteen separate facilities between farm and market,
making  exports to the EU cost prohibitive for corn and soybean

The EU instead adopted the broader labeling designation that products
which "may contain" GMOs must be labeled appropriately.  European
consumer groups cautioned that the "may contain" category could become a
catch-all for label-wary producers.  Indeed, nearly three-fifths of
processed foods contain genetically-modified soybeans, a figure likely
only to increase as U.S. growers increasingly plant genetically modified
soybean plants.  Because the "may contain" provision will have
widespread application, its stigmatizing value will likely be lost as
consumers grow familiar with its presence.

"Labeling the mutant tomato," THE ECONOMIST, August 9, 1997; "EU takes
further action on GMO labeling," FEEDSTUFFS, August 11, 1997.

Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. and a coalition of organic food companies
reached a settlement with the State of Illinois August 15, allowing
dairy product manufacturers to state on product labels that the ice
cream, yogurt or other dairy product does not contain recombinant Bovine
Growth Hormone (rBGH). rBGH is used to promote increased milk production
in dairy cows.  Illinois, along with Hawaii, Nevada, and Oklahoma, have
laws prohibiting the use of so-called anti-hormone labels.  "Natural-
food firms win label rights," WASHINGTON TIMES, August 15,  1997.

The Eco-Labeling Campaign has changed its name to the Consumer's Choice
Council.  Office address:  1367 Connecticut Avenue, NW, suite 300;
Washington, DC  20036;  Ph: +01/202/785/1950; Fax: +01/202/785/8701
Our apologies for publishing the incorrect address in LABELS Volume 1,
Issue 1.

Forest Products Research Conference.  September 15-18, 1997. Madison,
Wisconsin. Co-sponsored by the National Planning Committee and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.  The conference will focus on two
themes: Industrial ecology: contributions of forest products technology;
and the use of economic instruments to achieve sustainable forestry.
The  latter includes a panel on certification and ecolabels.  For more
information contact Diann Campbell, Conference Coordinator, USDA FS
Forest Products Laboratory, One Gifford Pinchot Drive, Madison
Wisconsin, 53705 USA. Ph: +01/608/231/9244; Fax: +01/608/231/9592;  E-
mail: /s=d.campbell/oul=s32a at

The 5th IFOAM International Conference on Trade in Organic Products: The
Future Agenda For Organic Trade.  September 24-27, 1997.  Oxford,
England.  For more information, contact IFOAM Organic Trade Conference,
Mouse Lane, Steyning, BN44 3DG England. Ph: +44/1903/812/200; Fax:  +44/
1903/879/052; E-mail: ifoamconf at natural

What's In A Name: Eco-Labeling In The Global Food System.  Paper
presented at the Joint Meetings of Agriculture, Food, and Human Values
Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society, held in
Madison, WI, June 5-8, 1997.  By Elizabeth Barham, Department of Rural
Sociology, Cornell University.  Examines the emerging clashes between
corporations and eco-labeling proponents as reflective of a larger
struggle to moderate the effects of global market liberalization on
consumers, producers and environment.  Copies are available for free via
e-mail by contacting <meb6 at>.  Hard copies available for
$7.50 each by writing  Elizabeth Barham, Department of Rural Sociology,
133 Warren Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca NY, 14853 USA.

Green Business: Hope or Hoax? Toward an Authentic Strategy for Restoring
the Earth.  Edited by Christopher and Judith Plant. New Society
Publishers, 1997. 144 pages, paperback. US$9.95. Offers 'green business'
analysis and case studies to examine the limits and possibilities of
using business as a tool for restoring the earth. Available at
bookstores or by contacting New Society Publishers, PO Box 189, Gabriola
Island, BC, V0R 1X0 Canada. Ph: +01/250/247/9737; Fax: +01/250/247/7471;
E-mail: nsp at

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Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Mark   Ritchie,
President.  Editor: Judith Brienza, e-mail iatp at  E- mail versions
are available free of charge.  For information about fax  or mail
subscriptions or for a  list of other IATP publications, contact  the
Institute for Agriculture  and Trade Policy, 2105 First Avenue  South,
Minneapolis, MN 55404. phone: 612-870-0453, fax: 612-870-4846,  e-mail
iatp at  For  information about IATP's contract research  services,
contact Dale Wiehoff, dwiehoff at


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