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How can I protect myself from GM foods?




Photo: Nevit Dilmen (CC BY-SA 3.0)

GM foods consist of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), contain them, or have been produced from them. A GMO is an organism (plant, animal or microorganism) whose genetic material has been altered in such a way that could not have occurred under natural conditions via cross-breeding or natural genetic recombination.

Under European law, certain products must be labelled as GM foods, for example those that contain more than 0.9% of GMOs. These must be labelled “This product contains genetically modified organisms” or “Produced from genetically modified [organism description]”. However, the use of “white biotechnology” is not subject to mandatory labelling. Processed products like frozen pizza or breakfast cereals may contain ingredients such as vitamins or amino acids that have been produced using genetically modified microorganisms. The same applies to enzymes used in the production of cheese, baked goods or juice. There is also no obligation to label products such as milk, meat or eggs from animals that have been given genetically modified feed.

The “Ohne Gentechnik” seal, awarded by VLOG, the association that promotes food without genetic engineering, helps German consumers to make choices. Foods awarded the seal may not contain any (proven) genetically modified organisms or parts thereof – including enzymes or other food additives produced using GMOs.

The websites of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety provide comprehensive information on this topic:

Saskia Blank of the Ideas 2020 team answered this question.