Organic groups have slammed an EU decision to allow genetically modified material in organic food.

Ministers in Brussels have signed off a regulation that will allow up to 0.9% of an organic product to come from GM sources without any mention of it on the label.

"People buy organic food as a way of avoiding GM," said Richard Jacobs, chief executive of Organic Farmers and Growers. "If we allow it to be contaminated to nearly 1%, we are taking away that choice."

OFG and the Soil Association said they would ignore the 0.9% threshold to protect consumers. They would certify food as organic if it contained less than 0.1% GM material - the minimum that can be detected.

This meant organic producers would have to pick up the costs of any produce that exceeded this threshold due to inadvertent contamination by GM material. They would be unable to sell it as organic, but wouldn't receive any compensation for their loss, said a spokeswoman for the Soil Association.

This made a mockery of the 'polluter pays' principle, she said, adding: "Organic farmers and consumers shouldn't have to pay for the costs of GM contamination."

Friends of the Earth campaigner Clare Oxborrow said: "EU Ministers have put the interest of the biotech industry ahead of consumers."

A delegation of organic businesses is to challenge Defra secretary David Miliband over the matter at a meeting on 21 June.