The regulation of genetically modified food

Genetically modified food is regulated by Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed, the Genetically Modified Food (England) Regulations 2004 and the Genetically Modified Food (Wales) Regulations 2004.

Authorisations for sell genetically modified food

In order to sell genetically modified organisms for food use, food containing or consisting of genetically modified organisms and food produced from or containing ingredients produced from genetically modified organisms it is necessary to obtain an authorisation.

There is a set procedure for applying for an authorisation which is set out in the Regulations. In England and Wales an application should be made to Food Standards Agency.

Once an application has been made the Food Standards Agency is required to give notice of the application to the European Food Safety Authority who in turn is obliged to give notice of the application to the other Member States and the Commission.

The European Food Safety Authority will then give an opinion as to whether the food should be authorised for sale and the Commission will decide whether to give authorisation. The Commission may also obtain the opinion of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies before making a decision.

An authorisation will not be granted if the food:

  • has adverse effects on human health, animal health or the environment; or
  • misleads the consumer; or
  • has a lower nutritional value than the food which it is intended to replace.

Any authorisation given may be subject to conditions or restrictions and may be subject to monitoring.

The Commission’s decision will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Any authorisation given will be valid throughout the European Community for 10 years unless it is revoked by the Commission.

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For more information on:

  • Labelling of genetically modified food
  • Liability for genetically modified food
  • Failure to comply with the Regulations