The decision by European Union agriculture ministers last week to permit organic food "inadvertently" containing up to 0.9% genetically modified material to be labelled "GM Free" should be a cause for concern, regardless of the rights and wrongs of GM foods ('EU allows GM materials in organic food', The Grocer, 16 June, p6).
This is a straightforward matter of consumer choice. A labelling regime that permits a product with nearly 1% of GM content to be described as "GM Free" is misleading.
It also poses a threat to the integrity of organic food - the fastest-growing sector in the UK food industry, and one that crucially depends on public trust for its prosperity.
Since it is scientifically possible to trace GM elements down to 0.1% of food content, that (rather than 0.9%) should be the point at which disclosure is required.
To make matters worse, there is a real danger that ministers may have sent a signal to the GM sector that contamination up to 0.9% would be regarded as routinely acceptable.
The UK food industry deserves better than this. The government may wish to explain to consumers why, when the European Parliament, Italy, Belgium, Greece and Hungary voted in favour of maximum choice, they failed to do so.