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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

European vs US organic food laws

A comparison of US GMO and organic food standards and laws. Note: Standards are usually voluntary in the US, like the USDA National Organic Program of the Non-GMO Project Verified program.

This information is from publicly available sources on the WWW. The name of EU directives are taken from the format of the web page on which they are displayed, thus they might appear to have inconsistent formatting. I don't claim to understand the reason behind the inconsistent formatting. Directives appear to take the format YYYY/nnnn and regulations the format nnn/YYYY where YYYY is the year.

European Union
Quote: "The European Union (EU) has in place a comprehensive and strict legal regime on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), food and feed made from GMOs, and food/feed consisting or containing GMOs.  The EU’s legislation and policy on GMOs, based on the precautionary principle enshrined in EU and international legislation, is designed to prevent any adverse effects on the environment and the health and safety of humans and animals, and it reflects concerns expressed by skeptical consumers, farmers, and environmentalists."
  1. The European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) conducts testing. EFSA Home page. EFSA page on GMO Science. (The EFSA sometimes things GMOs are safe despite the independent studies.)
  2. Marketing and importing GMO foods is regulated by the EU, but growing GMO is regulated at the EU country level. 
  3. "Regulation No. 1829/2003 prohibits placing on the EU market a GMO for food use, or a food containing or consisting of GMOs or food products produced “from” GMOs, unless an authorization is granted.  Food and feed produced “with” a GMO are excluded from the scope of this Regulation."
  4. GMO labeling required except where an ingredient is less than 0.9% of the total (VI.b): "Labeling requirements apply to foods delivered to the final consumers or mass caterers in the EU that either contain or consist of GMOs, or are produced from or contain ingredients produced from GMOs.  Regulation No. 1829/2003 requires that the phrase “genetically modified” or “produced from genetically modified [name of the organism]” must appear clearly next to the ingredient list." 
  5. The EU requires traceability for GMO substances. 
  6. Directive 2001/18/EC addresses GMO releases into the environment.
  7. 1830/2003 addresses more GMO labeling. Labeling of all GMO ingredients is required, even for ornamental things like cut flowers.

Restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms: European Union. Last accessed Apr 17, 2016.


  1. Roundup can be sprayed onto Roundup Ready crops to kill them, and harvested in 2 days thus leading to Roundup in the food chair.
  2. Plants that product Bt CRY toxin are allowed in the food system. 
  3. Labeling products that contain GMOs are not required except in Vermont, which recently passed a law requiring products containing GMOs to be labeled. Several manufacturers have already indicated they will use the same GMO label for Vermont as for the rest of the country.
  4. "Free range" chickens does not mean sunlight ever touched their back. It means chickens are packed into a large, crowded barn together.  
    "Free range" chickens collapsing under their own weight.
  5. The US uses the "it's safe until proven otherwise" philosophy regarding GMOs. 
  6. Non-Organic seeds and other items can be used if  organic seeds are not available, and the "organic" label can still be used. 
  7. US companies, like Monsanto, are well-known for lobbying for GMOs, and lobbying against third-party studies.Monsanto job titles even included "influencing the EPA".


USDA National Organic Program. Link to website.

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