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Nestle Denies GMO Accusations
Swiss-based food giant Nestle yesterday claimed that its products made and marketed on the Chinese mainland do not use ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which requires labeling in China.

The company also denied it had applied what Greenpeace activists in Hong Kong called "double standards."

In some European countries Nestle labels the presence of genetically engineered ingredients in its food products if they are in use but refuses to do so in Asia.

"Nestle strictly adheres to laws and regulations regarding food safety and food labeling in every country it operates," the unnamed representative from the multinational food manufacturer told China Daily yesterday.

The ingredients that Nestle uses in China are not on the list of GMOs or products directly processed from GMOs that the Ministry of Agriculture requires to be labeled, a Nestle China Ltd staff said yesterday.

In a landmark regulation released in January, the ministry listed five categories of GMOs, including soy beans, corn, rapeseed, cotton seed and tomatoes, as well as products directly processed from them, that should be clearly labeled as GMO products if they reach the market after March 20.

Commenting on the Nestle case, an official of the ministry's GMO Safety Management Office who preferred not to be named yesterday said some people do not understand the scope of China's GMO labeling system.

Some European countries require GMO labeling when a certain amount of genetically engineered ingredients are found. China requires strict safety evaluation procedures and the labeling of GMOs and their direct products, experts said.

The hot debate about the Nestle case is only the tip of the iceberg of GMO labeling problem in China, experts added.

Despite the fact that GMOs have been exported to and apparently consumed in China, GMO labels are hardly found on the Chinese market nearly nine months after the government released its labeling scheme in March.

The government officials said enterprises producing and selling GMO products must abide by Chinese labeling system.

(China Daily December 6, 2002)

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