A UK environmental group has accused the government of continuing to lobby against tough new EU laws on GM food and crops.
A briefing document obtained by Friends of the Earth has been sent to all UK MEPs urging them to support the government's opposition to tighter rules in a key European Parliament vote in Strasbourg today, writes the group.
The European Parliament vote is expected to back tougher GM labelling - viewed as essential step in an eventual end to the five year GM moratorium in Europe.
The current Directive requires food containing aningredient with at least 1 per cent of GM DNA to be labelled.
The new proposals would strengthen this legislation by increasing its scope to include derivatives from GM crops (such as oils which do not contain DNA). This would be done through a comprehensive 'traceability regime' which would track food ingredients to see if they are derived from GM crops.
In addition, Europe would see a reduction in the GM labelling threshold from 1 per cent to 0.9 per cent. Campaigners have been pushing for far stricter levels.
According to the environmental group, the joint briefing sent to MEPs from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the UK Food Standards Agency writes that the "the UK government does not welcome these amendments as the lower the threshold, the more difficult it would become to make the regulation practically effective to the benefit of genuine consumer choice.
A 1 per cent threshold reflects the capability of current detection methods, and the ability of the supply chain to deliver."
Highly critical of this stance, Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Pete Riley said:"Once again the UK government is opposing moves that would help protect our food from GM contamination and give consumers more information to help them avoid GM food. So much for being neutral on this issue."