Shoppers in the European Union will no longer have to squint at food labels wondering what биологично, ökológiai, mahepõllumajandus, or luomuviljely means -- they all mean "organic" and will soon be labeled with the same wordless logo in all 27 member states.Chosen from nearly 3,500 potential symbols entered by art and design students in a bloc-wide competition organized by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, the "Euro-leaf" design has "two clear messages: Nature and Europe."
Label Optional for Imported Produce
As of July 1, the logo will be required to appear on "all pre-packaged organic food produced in any of the 27 EU member states," the BBC reported this week. "The green logo, featuring the 12 EU stars in the shape of a leaf, will be optional for imported produce. Existing national logos for organic food will be allowed to appear next to the new EU logo."
A "Stop GMO" sign is recognizable even in Bulgarian. Photo by Krassimir Yuskesseliev/The Sofia Echo.
Bulgaria Battles GMOs
The EU isn't one big happy foodie family when it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), however. One of its newest members, Bulgaria, is struggling to reconcile "strong public opposition to GMOs [with] European Union regulations, which preclude an outright ban on laboratory and commercial cultivation," The Sofia Echo reported recently:
Following the wave of protests against a bill of amendments that would allow genetically modified organisms to be grown in Bulgaria, the country's ruling party will now propose a five-year ban on all genetically modified cultures in the country.
The initial amendments "allowed cultivation of genetically modified tobacco, vines, cotton, rose, wheat, and vegetables" outside areas protected under the EU's Natura 2000 program.
Though anti-GMO sentiment is generally strong in Europe, "EU member states are able to restrict GM crop cultivation only under strict conditions as authorisation licences are valid across the 27-country bloc, in accordance with the principles of the single EU internal market," EurActiv/Reuters explains.
Production of GMO fruits and vegetables is banned in Turkey, Bulgaria's neighbor and a candidate for EU membership. Both countries have high potential for growing organic and GMO-free food, as late development means that much of their land area has not yet been contaminated with pesticides or genetically modified crops. According to Bulgarian opposition party deputy Lyutvi Mestan, 70 percent of Bulgarian land is suitable for such "ecological agriculture," compared to only around 5 percent in many other European countries.
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Germany Approves 'GM-Free' Label