Codex to Consider Labeling for Genetically Engineered Foods

GE labelingNext week, committee members of Codex, the UN-sponsored would-be global regulator, will be reviewing guidelines for genetically engineered (GE) foods. The US delegation to the committee says—surprise—that no labeling is needed! An URGENT new Action Alert the deadline to send comments is TODAY.

The Codex Committee on Food Labeling will meet May 9–13 in Québec City, Canada, where members will review the Codex guidelines on labeling food. Among the items for review are the Codex labeling standards for genetically engineered foods.

The Codex Alimentarius (Latin for “Food Code”) is a collection of internationally adopted food standards, guidelines, codes of practice, and other recommendations which supporters hope will become a global standard. The US is a Codex Committee member country.

In preparation of the upcoming meeting in Canada, the US delegates held a public meeting in Washington, DC, on April 25 to discuss their draft position that they will present in Québec. ANH-USA attended that meeting—and the US position is pretty dismal. The US draft position is open for public comment only through May 2, so we are sending this newsletter out a little early.

Of particular interest is the US position on GE labeling. Codex currently does not have any requirements for mandatory process labeling. US delegates said that there is no need for GE labeling!

This means that the US delegation is advocating a position on GE labeling that is inconsistent with the perspective of US citizens. In a 2008 Consumers Union nationwide poll, 95 percent of respondents said they thought food from genetically engineered animals should be labeled.

The US delegation adds that the “claimed right to know is ill-defined and variable and in this respect could not be used by Codex as the primary basis of decision-making on appropriate labeling.”

What is the difference between Codex and the EU harmonization of laws?

There is a great deal of confusion over the standards put forth by the Codex Alimentarius and the recent EU “harmonization” of European regulations and laws, and we thought a little background might be helpful.

The European Union has passed legislation affecting natural health in order to “harmonize” (read: control) laws across the EU. EU legislation comes in the form of both directives and regulations. Directives come into effect once they have been incorporated into the member state laws. Regulations come into force immediately across all EU member states.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, on the other hand, is an intergovernmental body that sets guidelines and standards with the stated goal of promoting “fair trade practices” and consumer protections in the global trade for food. The Commission deals with every facet of food. Its guidelines are not binding, but there is an implicit goal that member countries will modify their own national laws based or benchmarked against these global standards that have been set by the Codex Commission.

There are 27 member states in the European Union, but over 170 member countries on the Codex Alimentarius Commission. There are over 30 committees within Codex, each dealing with specific areas of food—and decisions are based on consensus voting by member countries. The representatives of the member countries are usually bureaucrats and not democratically elected officials.

The central problem is that Codex guidelines are usually influenced by big corporate interests and often ignore both consumer interests and common sense. This is evident in the extremely lax standards on GE labeling (even though most of its member states are strongly in favor of GE regulation).

The EU process is not dissimilar from the Codex process. But it is a different process, albeit shaped in the same model as Codex. The EU process is further along than Codex, thus we can glean from EU developments much of what we can expect from Codex. EU has adopted extremely restrictive—one might say ridiculous—standards on vitamins and supplements. For example, the maximum strength permitted for a beta carotene capsule is the amount found in half a large carrot, while that for selenium would be no more than what is typically available in one-third of a Brazil nut. Because of Codex’s breadth, and because the US has proven to be in lock step with Codex all the way, we anticipate US support for similarly ridiculous and restrictive limits on dietary supplement potency.

Take Action TODAY!

The US Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) only made its draft position available on April 25—giving the public less than a week to respond. We need to send in our comments TODAY, May 2, and ask the committee to revise its draft position—a consumer’s right to know is an important standard. The US should be a world leader, not an embarrassment on the world stage, supporting a bad standard.


Click THIS LINK to go to the Action Alert page. Once there, fill out the form with your name and address, etc., and customize your letter. We have a suggested message for you, but please feel free to add your own comments to the letter.

We’d also love to hear your comments about this article—just add your thoughts below—but remember that the messages below are only seen by our ANH-USA readers and not Congress, the FDA, etc.


  1. All GMO’s must be labeled appropriately as these foods are genetically different from those that are naturally and organically grown. People in the United States of America should have a say in what kinds of foods they ingest, and they should have the right to purchase the kind of food they would like to eat. As a consumer, I demand this right.
    Thank you.

  2. Why should we the consumers of the genetically altered foods not need to be told that they are genetically altered?????
    I am insulted that anyone would consider these foods safe before they are proven to be and I should have the choice to eat them or not. I could end up being the 2% that has a problem with it.
    PLEASE allow me the choice. We need to know.

  3. Please require labeling for all genetically modified foods. I want to know what I am eating!

    1. Please revise your draft regarding labeling for Genetically Engineered Foods to reflect a requirement to label all genetically modified foods. I want to know what I am eating!

  4. Please give people the consideration of knowing what they are eating. We have the right to know.

  5. Please HELP us our USDA is just another arm to Monsanto and chemical companies. There is no chance for us to protect ourselves against them. They are corrupt. Please help us from the outside!

  6. There is a large group of us US citazens that are making plans to leave the USA because we can’t get clean water, air or food that isn’t genetically engineered here anymore. We don’t want their food on our plates and are afraid to drink the water or breathe the air without worrying about being poisoned. We would rather leave and take our chances elsewhere,where we can at least not worry about what’s on our dinner plate. They are now taking our rights to stay healthy by taking supplements and vitamins. My ancestors came here 1627 from England and every man in our family has fought to keep us free. Well we aren’t free. The government treat us like herds of cattle and tell us what we can & can’t do, can and can’t eat, To drink the poison water and lump it. There is nothing but sickness here and I hope those of us get out, are in time to save the young.

  7. I don’t want to eat genetically modified food. There needs to be a label on these foods. Starting now. If I had the choice I would never buy them. People are eating them now with out bring notified and it’s not right. This must stop!

  8. It’s a sad day when an American has to turn to the UN in an attempt to secure their right to know if their food is pure ar artifical (genetically modifgied). But that’s the way it is. America is losing her independence to partner with a global system of equality.
    Shamfully our elected officals are leading the way and it appears to be all about the money. It always is. It seems that the time has come for Americans to wake up and vote every one of them out with no exceptions. Call it “Out with the old – IN with the New”. We should relize by now that it matters not what party their belong to. In the end its all the same.
    You want to see change America? This well do it. It applies to local, state, and federal elected officals. Once again, no exceptions. Come on people … get it done.

  9. As a consumer, I don’t buy stuff that I suspect might be or contain any GMOs. Let’s have honest labels, so those of us who are concerned about the safety of GMOs know what we’re buying and eating. It’s plain unethical to fool people into purchasing and consuming foodstuffs that they would reject if only they knew what they were.

  10. Please label all GMO food. It is essential for people’s future health that we know what we are eating. I don’t like this genetic manipulation of the food supply. There are too many unknown variables. It will also lead to heavier pesticide use as the plants are designed to withstand it. I want to cut down my exposure to chemicals not increase it. In short, this labeling is a critical first step towards letting people know about the potential dangers of GMO food.

  11. About 100 consumers died from ingesting GM tryptophan – most of them would be alive today if it had been truthfully labeled. The consumers of dietary supplements are the very ones who try hardest to avoid GM but they were unable to do so due to the false label on the tryptophan.

  12. I don’t want to eat genetically engineered anything. Natural foods are the way.

  13. For those who have educated themselves regarding a world government controlled by the “elite”….I prefer to call them psycopaths,they seek to reduce the population of the planet by 2/3. With the degredation of our food quality and nutrition Codex will serve to make many very ill who now must research supplements to stay healthy.
    With the lack of access to health care for many in the US millions of us rely on natural supplements can mean the difference of having or not having any health care. The plan of world government is serve up fatty nutrition starved food and prevent the populace from having access to the supplements that will save them. The situation is dire and the time for all of us to get that is now. This organization sues. That is what is needed as well as an educated and willing to do something citizenry!

  14. Genetically engineered food is a disaster waiting to happen. When you mess with nature this way you can destroy the health of the human population. The only people that this helps are the big chemical, big pharma, and agribusiness companies. The rest of us get screwed.

  15. I know it’s late. Buy, why not use to spread the word, wouldn’t you get more support? It’s been effective in many instances in forcing change. Don’t know how it would work with our politicians here, since they’re completely brain-washed by lobbyist and corporations.

  16. I added this personalization to my note.
    The nearly miraculous claim that genetically engineered and biotech seeds are so different than those found in nature that they need patent protection, and yet the foods they produce are so exactly the same as those found in nature today that they need not be labeled as a new or different ingredient is a claim no one can really believe.

  17. I think that it is very important that labeling be put on all GMO products. What I would really prefer is that all Gmo products be banned. They are causing havoc on peoples health. Do you know what a serious health problem these products can incur?

  18. While labeling GMO’s is a step in the right direction, the unnatural and permanent alteration of our food supply’s genetic codes will almost certainly have devastating effects on human health both now and forever, contributing greatly to existing chronic disease while leading to the creation of new and unique diseases.

  19. IAs a Public Health Nutritionist, it is important for the public to know what they are eating. If you are not worried about the effects of GMO, then you should not hesitate to label the foods. Otherwise, I feel you are hiding information that will affect our health.
    Please label our food.

  20. Are you people crazy?? Would you want you or your children to be eating foods that are genetically modified? Come on people open your eyes and stand up for something that matters!!

  21. My comment is – why bother? you can see where this is going can’t you? there’s so much uproar against GMOs and people wanting labeling that they plan to simply make everything GMO and then the labeling problem goes away for them. Better to put energy into thinking of ways to ‘lose’ the GMO crops. Is there a movement to join for that?

  22. I think it is it very important that consumers have access to this information. We have a right to know how our food is produced. This is ethical and it’s the right thing to do. You need to protect the consumer not big corporations or those with vested interests. This is a democracy isn’t it????

  23. I am a natural health television reporter and I support the labeling of genetically engineered food.!
    I am also an allergic individual who carefully grills the waitress in a restaurant. I need to know what I am eating…and I have the right to know!
    Thanks for supporting the freedom to choose an the right to know.
    Mary Mucci

  24. as a HUMAN BEING I want and have a right to know what is being done to the food chain and what I am buying

  25. vitamin d should be of particular interest, since the recommendations are in great flux. what started out as 400 iu went to 800, then 1000-2000, and now 5000 for seniors. (see dr. weil) the deficiency is an epidemic and has severe health consequences.


  27. Labeling is needed on every single genetically modified food in existence. Salmon should NOT ever be genetically modified, ever, ever, ever. We are 100% opposed to all GMO foods.

  28. To Whom It May Concern:
    I wish to urgently request that you respect the public’s freedom of choice, thus helping the health of all, by labelling Genetically Modified Organism’s (GMO’s) What happened to our America? This is not a good idea to eat produce that has been sprayed with Round-up and we need a say in the matter. Please reconsider this and make Monsanto Corp. comply for the sake of the people’s in our USA. Thank you. May you act on “truth”.

  29. Genetic Engineering
    Hey, the world’s a crazy place. The human creature is endowed with infinite cleverness and almost zip wisdom.
    Genetic engineering is the latest example of this. But unlike past manifestations of our cleverness, genetic engineering represents the first time in history where human decisions have the potential to change life on our planet forever.
    I see a pattern here.
    The pesticides and toxic waste we’ve created and continue to release into our life support system will take tens and potentially hundreds of generations to be rendered harmless to human and other life.
    With nuclear power, we’ve created and continue to release radioactive materials into our life support system that will take thousands if not hundreds of thousands of generations to become safe for unprotected human exposure.
    Now comes genetic engineering with potentially infinite consequences.
    Given our track record up to now, I don’t believe that the human family is yet conscious enough to be trusted with making potentially forever decisions.
    Especially considering some people are:
    •So insane for money and power that they are capable of doing anything to impose their agenda on the world.
    •So sure they are doing God’s will that they will do anything to impose their religious agenda on others.
    •So sure that their ideology is correct that they will do whatever they deem necessary to impose their worldview on the rest of us.
    And even when our motives are pure, intelligent, democratic, and totally dedicated to improving the common good, who among us has the wisdom to fully comprehend the ultimate consequences of releasing self-replicating organisms of human creation into our common environment, however noble our motives?
    I’m not saying that we should abandon our quest for knowledge in this or any other area.
    I’m insisting that for the sake of our youth and future generations, that wisdom and its partner humility should be foremost in our minds and hearts before we choose to unleash whatever our cleverness makes possible.
    The human family has lived at least 100,000 generations, each generation being 33 years (enough time for a human to reproduce and raise their child to adulthood). Our job is to ensure that we leave the next 100,000 generations with a healthy, happy, functional world.

  30. The deadline is today … actually it was yesterday.
    Are you serious? You didn’t know before to tell anyone?

  31. I fully support labeling of all GMOs as I want to eat safer foods. I choose not to use GMOs and being in the marketplace makes it hard for me to keep self healthy along with my family and freinds. Please, respect our rights to know the truth and choices. Thank you.

  32. I have a right to know what tyoe of food I am eating.
    Warm regards,

  33. Please revise your draft position re genetically engineered foods, because I have a right to know what type of food I am eating. Warm regards.

  34. Only wish I had received this Action Alert sooner – would have sent it out to our national WAM network where many folks would have sent in their comments.
    Would you please send me a note stating who is on the US committee that said no GE labeling is needed. Please send me a list of whose who in that for WAM publishing.
    [email protected]

  35. Consumers need to be aware of what we are putting into our bodies and then make our own choice.

  36. In a time where we are on the threshold of having peacetime once again with the threat of terrorism being downsized, we should also be able to recognize other threats which would affect us if released into our world. Genetic engineering in agriculture is the biggest threat to the world’s food supply and we must make sure that every step is taken to ensure it’s safety if it is ever to be released into our environment. Many tests have shown otherwise and allowing these to be touted as safe is irresponsible . The advent of biotechnology applied to our food supply has wreaked havoc on our ecosystem and on the inhabitants of the earth. Pollinators and people are suffering the effects of this highly controversial and highly useless technology which puts us at risk for diseases and our biodiversity at risk of extinction. Please do not consider this a way to feed the world. Organic and holistic agriculture has been proven to outperform biotechnology in every circumstance. These natural systems work with the environment do not require the use of highly toxic pesticides and herbicides and do not disrupt the cycle of our ecosystems. We must not be arrogant in thinking we can sell seeds and plants that are made for profit and then think this will be safe for the future. Thank you. Maria Concilio

  37. May 3, 2011
    Dear ANH-USA:
    Last year on May 3 through May 7, 2010, Codex A. met in Ottawa, Canada and advocated the same thing: no labeling Worldwide. So they are doing the same thing this year; so what good will this petition do? By the way, the United States Codex delegation, who totally misrepresent the people, had three stooge countries on their side at Ottawa and 47 countries against them. But Codex is still at it again, pushing for no GE food labeling; something no right thinking country wants. If we sign this petition, we will just be groveling to Codex again.
    I have a better idea. Your article says 170 countries are members of Codex A.. Did they have the foggiest idea of what they were joining? says Codex A. will mandate that our food be genetically engineered: plants and animal food, our vitamins , nutrients, and supplements degraded, our organic farms put out of business, and our organic backyard gardens outlawed. If these 170 countries knew this, nearly all would walk out of Codex A. tomorrow. So why doesn’t someone tell them? Could it be done through the United Nations or it it too corrupt? Why not tell these countries directly?

  38. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW HOW AND WHAT WE DO WITH OUR LIVES INCLUDING WHAT WE EAT. NOT someone else. How would you like it if someone else RUNS YOUR LIFE? I don’t even have to think twice about that….

  39. will this be a live event? which nations are turning up to vote. I feel that the smaller countries, whom have not had GMO foods enter their production, could greatly benefit economically from proper identification for GMO foods with CODEX. It is these same small nations that have restricted trade opportunities already due to Quarantine restrictions and yet are being told to join the World Trade Agreement. If the small countries have a Non-GMO crops and this can be a trade advantage to their export opportunity, then, they should really get involved with this decision.

  40. We need Genetically Modified Foods to be labeled. The pesticides that are used to grow these GMO plants are slowly killing us, not to mention the BEES. Has anyone heard of the plant that has the terminator gene?? Supposedly the seed from these plant do not germinate whatsoever. And when are they going to start labeling food that has been contaminated with radiation from japan??? I read that milk in san francisco contains 1000-2000% above EPA standards for radiation. I DEMAND LABELING OF GMO’s. Don’t forget about all the animal being injected with growth hormones. There are so many other problems with the water,food,labeling,packaging industry. BPA, MSG, Aspartame, PDE, PFOA, MTBE, acrylamide, mercury and the list goes on and on and on. where are these toxic labels???? Sometimes i just feel so hopeless.

  41. We don’t need any global regulator to tell America, what determines the policy on natural foods. Keep your global reach to the nations in Europe, not in American land.

  42. Tell the public they are not intelligent or caring enough to be told what has been done to their food and how it might affect tham. Tell them big ag, pharma, corporations and the government said that because they think they are too stupid to bother telling.

  43. There are those who state that we need GM foods to be labelled. Nonsense!! We DO NOT NEED GM FOODS UNDER ANY CONDITION, AND WE CERTAINLY DO NOT NEED MONSANTO.
    If any scientists need to be eliminated, they are those who have produced, and promoted this devastating GM trash which is also creating havoc with weeds in the fields adjacent to those which have had the GM seeds planted.
    GM seeds have been banned in Europe! Does that reveal anything to anyone out there, including the illustrious scientists?

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