As the fight to label genetically modified foods in North America continues, it is important to remember that more than 60 countries around the world already have labeling laws in place. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has an interactive global map of all the countries with GMO labeling laws. The non-profit group conducted global food policy research to create the map, which includes EU member countries, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India and Australia.
The CFS breaks down the types of GMO labeling laws into four categories, which are represented on the map by different colors. The most stringent type are represented by a bright blue shade and constitute an outright ban of GMO food cultivation and imports. There are only three countries with bans: Burkina Faso, Serbia, and Zambia.
The next type of labeling laws require mandatory labeling of almost all GMO foods, with a labeling threshold of 0.9 to one percent GMO content. The threshold refers to content per ingredient in each food product. There are 37 countries with these types of GMO labeling laws, including EU member nations, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, and Kazakhstan. One step below this type of labeling law is a category that requires mandatory labeling of many GMO foods with a labeling threshold higher than one percent or undefined, including laws with a threshold of one percent for the whole food product. There are 10 countries in this category, including Ukraine, China, Japan, Kenya and South Africa.
The least stringent of labeling laws requires mandatory labeling of some GMO foods, but with either many exceptions and no defined labeling threshold or a vague mandatory GMO food labeling law without implementation and enforcement provisions. There are 15 countries with this type of labeling law, including Ethiopia, Mali, India, and Thailand.
All of North America is colored white on the CFS map, which means that there are no food labeling laws. Or as the executive director of CFS, Andrew Kimbrell puts it, “One quick glance at the map and you know the U.S. is truly lost on GE labeling.” Kimbrell added that it is encouraging to know that there are so many countries with labeling laws. “Yet, at the same time it’s frustrating and offensive that Americans are denied the information about their food that those in Kenya and Saudi Arabia receive.”
There is hope for the U.S. as Connecticut became the first state in the union to pass a GMO labeling law this summer. A few weeks later Maine passed a similar law. However, that is on the state level, and many labeling advocates long for a federal law. In April, a GMO labeling bill was introduced into the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives called Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.
Photo Credit: leyink