Consumers proven about the negative health and environmental effects of GMOs would prefer to choose healthier and better food than that based on GMOs. Many therefore choose more organic food to ensure food without GMOs and the associated dangerous pesticides that are used. The production and use of GMOs is regulated by the Genetic Technology Act. The Genetic Engineering Act is based on assessments of health and environmental effects, social benefit, sustainability and ethics. The Genetic Engineering Act defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as micro-organisms, plants and animals where the genetic composition has been changed through gene or cell technology. Examples of food crops modified through genetic engineering are potato, apples, papaya, tomato and much more.
The Food Act regulates products such as sugars, starches and edible oils that are derived from GMO crops. The Food Act regulates processed food and feed products which are produced on the basis of GMOs, but which do not consist of or contain significant amounts of genetically modified genes. For example oils from rapeseed, maize, soya and cotton. Flour from corn and potato, fructose derived from corn, or protein isolate from soy.
Definition of genetically modified products are products that consist of food that contains or is produced from microorganisms (e.g. yogurt), animals (e.g. milk) or plants (e.g. corn on the cob) and that have had their genetic characteristics changed with modern genetic technology. There are no approved food or feed products under the Food Act. There should therefore be no products labeled as being genetically modified or containing genetically modified ingredients in Norway. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority can control imported food, feed and seeds.
All GMOs approved in the EU are tolerated in practice in food and feed in Norway, provided that the presence is unintentional and that the amount does not exceed the EU threshold for labeling (0.9%). In the EU, an organism is a GMO whose genetic material has been altered by genetic engineering to include genes that it would not normally contain. The EU requires GMO ingredients above 0.9% to be labeled “This product contains genetically modified organisms” or “This product contains genetically modified X”.
Under EU law, it is defined that the new plant breeding techniques, such as CRISPR and dsRNA, are GMOs as mutagenesis techniques and methods change the genetic material of a plant in a way that does not occur naturally within the scope of the GMO directive. This means that CRISPR-Cas genetic manipulation of food must also be governed by laws to protect the consumer. The law for registering GMOs can be strict, but much is allowed for import. Imports of soya and maize for animal feed in some EU countries can be up to 100% GMO. This has resulted in the development of large losses for thousands of small farmers.
The EU will probably produce over 2.5 million tonnes and import over 15 million tonnes of soybeans in 2018. Imports are mainly GMO soy from the USA and Brazil. Some food producers in the USA want to change the name of GMO to GE and change the threshold for the level of this GE (GMO) allowed in a food product to 5% before it has to be labeled with GE. This is probably because contamination far above 0.9% will occur. GMO producers who want to accept a GE stamp on their food production want their technology to be sold and accepted by everyone. GMOs are difficult and for many the safest and easiest thing is to be able to choose more organic food, and support organic agriculture.