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In April, the Judas tree is a cloud of pink blossom. You can't help noticing it, because the
Young pulmonaria flowers are bright pink. After a few days they turn violet and then vivid blue.
Hazel catkins are worth close inspection, although, if you suffer from pollen allergies, you might
Hamamelis blossom appears in winter, the flowers are delicate bunches of gold or red strands. They
Winter jasmine, as its name implies, flowers in mid-winter – not because of climate change or

Since 1997, genetically modified foods or products which contain them have had to be labelled. But to this day, it is rare to find a product in a supermarket that actually bears such a label. The devil, as they say, is in the detail; or, to be more precise, in the labelling legislation applicable within the EU.

The label must say:
“Genetically modified”,
“Produced from genetically modified …” or
“Contains genetically modified …”.

 

Since 2008 it has been permissible to state “GM free” on a food label. In the case of products derived from animals such as meat, eggs and milk, this means that the animal in question has not been fed genetically modified crops (or at the very least, not after a certain point in time). For pigs the period is four months prior to slaughter, for chickens the last six weeks before laying the eggs and for cows three months prior to producing the milk. Any GM medicines or vaccines given to the animals, any accidental contamination of feed by GM organisms and any genetically produced feed supplements such as vitamins or proteins are exempt from the labelling regulations.

In the case of foods not derived from animals, the “GM free” label indicates that the product does not contain any GM ingredients or additives. Additives made using GM organisms, such as vitamins, proteins and flavourings, are not permitted unless the production process used has been approved in the EC Regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products, and no alternative which does not rely on genetic engineering is available. Adventitious mixtures or accidental contamination are not permitted. Organic products must not contain any GM organisms whatsoever. “Green genetic engineering”, which refers to the practical use of genetically modified crops in agriculture, focuses on soya, maize, cotton, rapeseed and sugar beet. The main producing regions are the USA, Argentina, Brazil, India, China and Canada.