What does genetic engineering refer to?

Genetic engineering: what the label reveals

Products that need to be labeled

Labeling of GM foods

All food, ingredients, additives, vitamins that are processed in food and feed and from one genetically modified organism (GMO) originate or contain genetically modified microorganisms are subject to labeling.
It does not matter whether the respective genetic modification can be analytically proven in the end product.

The following overview lists examples (without claiming to be exhaustive) products that must be labeled:

Food itself is GMOe.g. soybeans, corn
The ingredient of the food comes from GMOsSoy flour, soy meal, soy flakes, soy protein, soy sauce, tofu, soy milk, soy bean sprouts, vegetable oil, etc. from GM soy
Corn flour, corn grits, corn oil, corn starch, maltodextrin, etc. from GM corn
vegetable oil / vegetable oil from rapeseed oil, vegetable oil / vegetable oil from cottonseed etc.
GMO additiveEmulsifier lecithin (E 322), mono- and diglycerides etc. from GM soy
Xanthan, maltitol, sorbitol etc. from GM maize
Vitamin from GMOsE.g. vitamin E / tocopherol from GM soy
GMO flavorFlavors e.g. from soy protein
Feed or feed additives made from GMOse.g. soy, corn, rapeseed, cotton
Products that do not need to be labeled

Food without reference to genetic engineering

Products from animals that have been fed with genetically modified feed remain without a corresponding reference to genetic engineering. Additives, vitamins and flavors that are produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms do not have to be labeled accordingly.

In addition, there is no provision for labeling genetically engineered enzymes that serve as processing aids. Numerous genetically engineered enzymes are already being used for this. The area of ‚Äč‚Äčapplication of enzymes extends to the entire range of foods. They are used, for example, to produce bread and baked goods, beer, wine, fruit juices, etc.

The following overview shows examples (without claiming to be exhaustive) products that do not have to be labeled:

Products from animals fed with feed or feed additives made from GMOsMeat, sausage, fish products, milk and milk products, eggs
Vitamins, additives, flavors
made with the help of genetically modified microorganisms
vitamin B2, B.12, Ascorbic acid etc.
Enzymes
made with the help of genetically modified microorganisms
Chymosin (cheese), amylases (bread and baked goods), pectinases (fruit juices) etc.

 

Unintentional contamination remains unmarked

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can find their way into non-genetically engineered products through cultivation, transport and processing. With the increasing use of genetic engineering, these "accidental" impurities are more and more difficult to avoid. Such unintentional GMO contamination in food does not have to be labeled up to a threshold value of 0.9% per ingredient. The manufacturer must prove to the competent authorities that he has fulfilled his duty of care to avoid contamination.
If the company cannot provide suitable evidence, labeling must also be carried out below the threshold value.

The type of marking

Type of marking

For food that is intended for end consumers or that are supplied to providers of communal catering, the following labeling regulations also apply:

Food must be labeled legibly and clearly

  • consist of GMOs (e.g. GM soybeans)
  • are made from GMOs (e.g. soy flour or lecithin from GM soy)
  • contain ingredients that are made from GMOs (e.g. chocolate with lecithin from GM soy)
  • that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (e.g. yeast, lactic acid bacteria - not yet on the market)

 

FoodPlace of identificationtext
packaged food with ingredients list
(e.g. toast)

List of ingredients behind the relevant ingredient

or

Footnote to the list of ingredients (same font size)

"genetically modified"

or

"made from genetically modified ..."

or

"... contains made from genetically modified ..."

packaged foods without an ingredient list
(e.g. polenta made from corn flour)
label

"genetically modified"

or

"made from genetically modified ..."

unpackaged food
(e.g. corn on the cob)
and
Food in small packages
- less than 10 cm2 surface
(e.g. 1 ice cream confectionery)

on the food (e.g. sign / notice)

or

in permanently legible form on the packaging

"genetically modified"

or

"made from genetically modified ..."

 

Labeled with the words "ohne Gentechnik"

Every year, millions of tons of genetically modified soybeans are fed in Germany without this being shown on the food. In 2009, a uniform seal "Ohne GenTechnik" was introduced in Germany. Consumers can thus see, especially in the case of animal foods such as milk, eggs or meat, that the animals were fed without genetically modified feed.

What does "Ohne GenTechnik" mean on the label?

The following legal rules apply to the labeling of foods with the words "Ohne GenTechnik":

For animal products such as meat, eggs and milk, the "Ohne GenTechnik" label can be used voluntarily if no genetically modified feed has been fed. Depending on the species of animal, precise rules apply to the minimum length of feeding time without GM plants before the products are put on the market. The label allows animal feed to contain additives such as enzymes, amino acids and vitamins that have been produced with the help of genetically modified organisms (bacteria). However, these substances must be produced in closed systems and the end products must not contain any genetically modified components.

In the case of processed foods "without genetic engineering", ingredients from genetically modified plants are prohibited, as are products made from them, such as glucose syrup from GM maize or lecithin from GM soy. Contamination with components from genetically modified organisms is not tolerated, or at most in the slightest traces. Substances that have been produced with the help of genetic engineering, such as enzymes or vitamins, are also not permitted. Exceptions apply to these substances only if they are not available other than from genetic engineering and are approved according to the EC organic regulation.

Consumer behavior influences the production of GMO-free plants!

Consumers can support farmers and processing companies who produce without genetic engineering through increased demand for food with the logo "Ohne Gentechnik". Those who consciously decide against the use of GM crops promote traditional cultivation and the use of GMO-free forage crops everyone can contribute to ensuring that GMO-free foods will continue to be available in the future.