The provision, passed in the French National Assembly in a close vote last week, also includes labelling requirements concerning the farming method and geographical origins for animal or animal foodstuffs.
The labelling amendment was proposed by France Nature Environnement – a collation of environmental groups. It declared last Saturday’s vote a victory.
The provision is contained in the first draft of President Emmanuel Macron’s Food and Agriculture Bill, which is being debated in French parliament. That bill is the result of the États Généraux de l’Alimentation (EGA), an extensive collation process involving agri-food stakeholders and government representatives over the past year.
French politicians, as part of the bill, have already voted for a prohibition on vegetarian products using meat sounding category names like steak or sausage.
Wide product labelling implications
An explanatory note, published alongside last week’s proposed labelling amendments, mentions studies showing that consumers are likely to misinterpret the information they receive from packaging.
The term ‘GMO’ must currently appear on food products containing GMOs except for products derived from animals fed with GMOs. However, the note refers to the fact that three-quarters of French livestock is fed with GMOs, imported soybeans in particular. The proposed label ‘fed with GMOs’ would apply equally to meats, eggs, milks, butters, cheeses as well as to products made from these products.
The Bill now moves to the Senate for review, scheduled for 11 June. As it stands, these provisions would take effect from January 1 2023.
However, French agriculture minister, Stéphane Travert, has made it clear that he believes that this proposal is incompatible with European labelling obligations.