When April arrives the European Union will enforce tight new rules on the labelling of genetically modified ingredients. A new GM beer on the Swedish market is using the changes to the maximum by emphasising to the consumer the benefits the product has gained from genetic modification.
The beer, brewed in the southern Swedish town of Ystad, is made from corn ?supplied by US biotech giant Monsanto - genetically modified to resist attacks from pests.
"It is truly exciting to imagine that our small brewery is the very first company in Sweden to launch a new genetically modified raw material for the food industry,?/I> said the brewer Kenth Persson, reports the Swedish food network, Oresund Food Excellence, adding that the modifications protect the corn from insects and gives the beer a piquant taste.
According to the report, development costs are covered by Monsanto, with additional financial support from the agro chemical titans.
"The intention is to bring a GMO labelled product to the market in order to give the consumers an option to choose. The retailers say the consumers do not want these products, but they have not investigated what the consumers really think,?/I> said Mattias Zetterstrand at Monsanto. Critics would say that a raft of surveys conducted across the EU15 have thoroughly examined what the 'consumer thinks?and have clearly demonstrated that the European consumer is GM shy.
Indeed, the new rules on GMO labelling instigated by EU Commissioner David Byrne find their source in consumer concerns over the role biotechnology can play in our food. The thinking behind the rules is that because any GM ingredient will be clearly labelled on the food product, the consumer has the choice.
With the launch of their GM beer, the Swedish brewer has taken the bull by the horns. Stakeholders and industry players will be watching sales of GM beer with interest.