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The United States changed its long-standing opposition of labeling genetically modified foods while at the annual Codex summit in Geneva, Switzerland, showing support for a new guide to help countries avoid trade issues on clearly labeled products containing genetically modified ingredients.

More than 100 countries showed their support for the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s efforts to create a consensus for the world’s food safety regulatory agencies.

Under the new Codex agreement, which prevents any trade barriers on labeled GM foods, any country implementing a labeling system for highly controversial genetically modified ingredients will not be at risk of a backlash from the World Trade Organization.

Celebrating this victory for truth in labeling, advocacy group Consumers International’s representative at the Codex meeting, Edita Vilcapoma of the Peruvian consumer group ASPEC said, “Peru’s recent introduction of GM food labelling faced the threat of a legal challenge from the WTO. This new Codex agreement now means that this threat has gone and the consumer right to be informed has been secured. This is a major victory for the global consumer movement.”

Countries around the world have been fighting against the push of biotech giants, including Monsanto, the largest manufacturer of GM seeds and companion pesticide, the glyphosate based, Roundup. The company has been heavily pushing their GM seeds including corn, canola and soy on financially challenged countries, resulting in resistance across the globe, including several countries in Africa that have been seeking GM labeling for nearly twenty years.

Cities throughout Peru have recently taken to banning GM seeds, and similar efforts are underway in Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in South America, as they look to reduce a dependency on cheap GM seeds through supporting indigenous plants.

Many European nations currently ban GM crops, but the use of Roundup pesticide is still approved. In the United States, an overwhelming majority of processed foods—approximately 80 percent—contain genetically modified ingredients.

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Photo: GabrielaP93