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Cyprus: Separate Shelves, Prominent Labeling for Genetically Modified Foods Now Law

The nation of Cyprus has enacted a new law mandating separate shelves for genetically modified (GM) foods in shops and supermarkets. The law also requires prominent signs warning consumers that foods are genetically modified or contain GM ingredients. According to the Cyprus Mail, GM foods must be labeled in Greek, English and Turkish– the three languages of the Mediterranean island nation. There will be heavy fines for non-compliance.

The law was passed by a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives, despite corporate pressure and past attempts by the United States, the world’s leading producer and proponent of GM foods, to derail the legislation. “This caps our efforts of nine years,” MP George Perdikis of the Green Party told the Cyprus Mail. Perdikis and the Greens were instrumental in drafting and passing this legislation. The party is pushing for Cyprus to become a GM-free zone. It would be the first European Union country to do so; hundreds of administrative districts across the EU have already gone GM-free.

This isn’t the first time that Cyprus has attempted to pass such a law. In 2005, intense pressure from the United States stalled passage of the separation bill. The US government “strongly urged” (Washington-speak for a not-so- thinly-veiled threat) House Speaker Dimitris Christofias, the current President, to kill the bill. Washington’s (and Wall Street’s) concern is that the separation of GM foods from conventional ones would stigmatize the former.

But GM foods have done a fine job of stigmatizing themselves. Unlike Americans, most Europeans are very wary of “Frankenfoods,” and for good reason. There have been no long-term safety tests done on them, and the unnatural mutations that occur in GM foods can cause severe health and environmental problems. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has warned the public to avoid GM foods, stating “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation.”

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