All foods and feeds that contain genetically modified (gm) ingredients are clearly labelled. This means you can choose the product that you want without having to wonder if it is genetically modified or not. In Finland, there are hardly any genetically modified foods on shelves in stores at present.
And you should also remember that "genetically modified" refers to the production method. In composition, genetically modified food is identical to regular food.
How can you identify genetically modified products?
Genetically modified ingredients are indicated in the labelling. If genetically modified plants or ingredients made from genetically modified plants are used in manufacture in a proportion higher than 0.9 %, this is indicated in the labelling. The words "genetically modified" or, for example, "produced from genetically modified soy" can be found in the list of ingredients immediately following the genetically modified ingredient or ingredients made from a genetically modified variety. If there is no indication of the use of genetically modified ingredients on the product, it is not genetically modified.
However, products of animal origin (for example meat, eggs and milk) are not labelled, if the animal has been fed genetically modified feed. All the genes contained in the feed are broken down in the animal's digestive process, including transplanted genes. Eating genetically modified feed does not make a pig or the meat of the pig genetically modified.
You can also come across the indication "GMO-free" (GMO = genetically modified organism). This voluntary indication means that genetically modified ingredients have demonstrably not been used in the manufacture of the product or in the production of foods of animal origin.
What does genetically modified mean?
Genetically modified refers to an organism, such as a plant, that has had its genetic inheritance and characteristics modified by means of genetic engineering. Genetically modified foods are foods manufactured from genetically modified ingredients or foods that contain such ingredients.
The most common application of genetic engineering is in the breeding of soy and corn. Genes are transplanted in these plants to make them resistant to a certain pesticide or to the larvae of certain pest insects. The aim is to create crops with better resistance to plant diseases and pests, and to reduce the need to use plant protection products, for example. It is also possible that in the near future plants that have been modified to achieve a healthier nutrient composition, for example the composition of fatty acids, will be introduced on the market.
Only genetically modified food and feed authorised in the EU may be sold or marketed. All genetically modified ingredients undergo a stringent authorisation procedure, including, for example, a statement of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the safety of the genetically modified product. Authorised genetically modified ingredients do not have any adverse effects on the health of people, animals or the environment. Finnish Food Authority and the Customs control genetically modified food and feed in Finland.
More information about genetically modified food is available in the Manufacture section.