At the most recent Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) meeting in Canada, collaborators agreed to drop ongoing work on creating labeling recommendations for and generally defining Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products. CCFL has decided to instead compile Codex texts on the subject of GMOs as a reference guide.

The news was reported from the meeting by the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA). CCFL agreed on a draft of the compilation, which was then adopted at July’s Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting. The compilation of texts is meant to guide Codex member countries in their approach to these issues.

“A main reason for Codex to stop the work in this area is that there was no consensus among Codex member countries on the labeling provisions,” says David Pineda Ereño, IADSA’s Regulatory Affairs Director. The decision to end discussions comes after years of division over whether labeling should be applied when GMOs are used in the production process, or only when they are present in a final product.

Pineda Ereño cites the influence of Codex in predicting how this decision will affect global policy. “What is adopted at Codex level is implemented in the next few years at the national and regional level all over the world. This will not be the case for the time being in this area, since Codex has decided to stop the work,” he says.

The guidance document, though it does not carry the weight of a recommendation, opens the door for nations to adopt their own GMO labeling rules without legal backlash. The CCFL meeting brought agreement on a definition for Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs). The group also set out work on the development of health claims guidelines for products containing trans fatty acids, and on mandatory nutrition labeling for all foods.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, August 2011