The manipulation of living organisms underwent a veritable revolution with the advent of genetic engineering, which allows part of the genetic make-up (DNA) to be isolated and artificially manipulated. As such, genetic engineering has given rise to the appearance of "Genetically Modified Organisms": GMOs.
The most common types of GMO are genetically modified plant species, which include varieties of maize, soybean, rapeseed and cotton. These varieties have essentially been genetically modified to resist certain insects, and tolerance to specific herbicides.
For a GMO to be placed on the market in the EU, it needs to pass through an approval system in which the impact on safety for humans, animals and the environment is carefully assessed.
The products in question are the following:
- GMOs destined for human food or animal feed, for example GM maize seeds;
- Human food and animal feed which contain GMOs, or which consist of such organisms;
- Food produced from GMOs or which contains ingredients produced from GMOs, and animal feed produced from GMOs, for example GM soybean oil, maize flour, etc.
Regulation (EC) N° 1830/2003 provides for comprehensive information thanks to the labelling of all products intended for human food and animal feed which consist of GMOs, or which contain them, as well as food and animal feed produced from GMOs. For example, oils produced from genetically modified soybean or maize, and all products containing them such as biscuits, crisps, etc., must be labelled in such a way that alerts the presence of GMOs.
Regulation (EC) N° 1830/2003 concerns the traceability and labelling of GMOs and their derivatives, and defines the traceability of GMOs as "the ability to trace GMOs and products produced from GMOs at all stages of their placing on the market through the production and distribution chains".
The general objective is to facilitate:
- the control and verification of claims made on labels,
- the targeted monitoring of potential effects on the environment, where appropriate,
- the removal of products which contain GMOs or consist of GMOs if an unexpected risk for human health or the environment is identified.
The FASFC has the power to control compliance with legal requirements with regards to the labelling and traceability of genetically modified products intended for the food chain, as well as to detect unauthorised GMOs.
The controls are intended firstly to ensure that food and animal feed which contain GMOs, or GMO derivatives, are authorised for commercialisation for a given use, and secondly to ensure the conformity of the labelling.
The control consist of a documentary inspection and/or analytical research intended to verify whether, if an GMO is present in a product it is authorised, and its presence is indicted on the label and/or the accompanying document of the product and samples.