Companies Fined for Not Obeying GMO Labeling Law
Six global food powerhouses face hefty fines of $277,400 to more than $1 million. In total, they owe about $3 million. These companies, which include PepsiCo and Nestlé, failed to comply with a Brazilian law requiring companies to disclose products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The fines are a result of inspections in 2010 that found a variety of products contained GMOs without proper labeling. Brazilian law requires these products be labeled with the “transgenic” symbol because they have genetically modified organisms in them.
GMO labeling is required pursuant to Decree No. 4,680 dated December 22, 2003. The decree requires that products that contain GMOs or that were produced from GMOs be marketed using the “transgenic” symbol. Biosafety Law No. 11,105, which was passed in 2005, established even stronger regulations. The law includes rules for biotechnology research, as well as rules for the production and marketing of GMOs. There are also restrictions for GMOs in food products, including a requirement to inform consumers when more than one percent of a product marketed for either human or animal consumption contains or was produced using GMOs.
GMOs are regulated but not banned in Brazil. CTNBio, a group that was set up to regulate the biotechnology industry in Brazil, is responsible for deciding whether specific GMOs can be used commercially in the country. Currently, CTNBio has approved roughly fifty GMOs for commercial use. They include things such as beans, cotton, soy and corn.
Sometimes companies do not comply with Brazil’s GMOs restrictions. In such cases, these companies generally first receive a warning and then subsequently face fines. Seizure of GMO products, halting of the company’s activity and suspension of licenses are some of the other punishments that companies violating GMO labeling laws in Brazil may face.
The controversy concerning GMO labeling is not exclusive to Brazil. Many other countries also have GMO labeling laws, some of them stricter than Brazil’s law. Even countries without laws requiring GMO labeling or GMO restrictions often deal with controversy over GMOs. For example, in the United States, where there are currently no federal restrictions on GMOs in food products, several major companies have promised to either eliminate GMOs in their products or correctly label products that do contain them.