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Experts Urging to Label GMO Products
It would seem to be an easy choice. Consumers are able to tell from the label what is in the food they are buying, how much sugar it contains and the amount of fat.

But when it comes to the controversial issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), things suddenly become a lot more complicated.

No such labels have been found in supermarket shelves across China, despite authorities having issued rules requiring special labels for all food products containing GMOs early last year.

This has sparked criticism from the country's consumer right watchdogs who have called on those in charge of the labeling procedures to get their act together.

"Consumers' right to being informed has been revoked as they have no idea when they come across GMOs products," said Dong Jingsheng, deputy secretary-general of the China Consumers' Association (CCA).

He said that consumers have a right to know what service they can expect from the operation, in a bid to make an objective purchasing choice of their own. This right can be met through either adequate labels or information campaigns.

It is imperative for related authorities to launch a high profile, objective and sustained information program to educate consumers in forming a scientific and knowledgeable consuming outlook, Dong added.

As for the GMO food, clear product labeling would help consumers make more informed choices on whether to use or avoid genetically modified products.

This is certainly not a priority for the forces behind the GMO industry who would welcome no labeling as a way to push their products onto unsuspecting consumers. On the contrary, several small suppliers of foods in the nation's capital have used their GMO-free status as a selling point, adding GMO-free labels to their products.

To strengthen the already existing labeling regulations, a group of 30 deputies from Northeast China's Jilin Province took a proposal to the first session of the 10th National People's Congress to push for more detailed and workable measures for dealing with GMO food labels.

Wang Xiulin, president of a Jilin-based agricultural product manufacturer, told China Daily that the effective implementation of the labeling obligation is to be insisted on nationwide.

Consumer interest is winning the labeling battle with strict rules issued by the Ministry of Agriculture that all genetically altered products China imports and the few goods that the country produces itself should be labeled clearly, said Wang.

"But labels on food products containing GMOs that are on sale to the public are still absent. We have completed the first step and we should continue to push forward and improve the work."

(China Daily March 15, 2003)

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