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BRUSSELS, Belgium - European countries began enforcing the world's strictest rules on labeling genetically modified foods Sunday, The Oregonian reports.
"In the interest of commercial success, we must respect consumer preference," said Francois Perroud, spokesman at Swiss food giant Nestle, which uses approved genetically engineered ingredients "without any hesitation" in the United States and elsewhere, but keeps them out of Europe.
Europe's biggest retailer, Paris-based Carrefour Group, said its research shows more than 75 percent of European consumers do not want genetically modified foods.
Its products have been guaranteed biotech-free since 1999, and other companies are "doing whatever's necessary to make sure their products don't need to be labeled," a Carrefour spokeswoman said.
At the Di per Di supermarket in central Rome, manager Mario Greghi said it would be "useless" to stock such items because they wouldn't sell, according to the report.
Some of the large supermarket chains in Sweden require suppliers to provide documentation that products don't include genetically modified ingredients. Big companies generally comply.
"We are not using such ingredients," said Mike Haines, spokesman for London-based Unilever, maker of Hellmann's mayonnaise, Magnum ice cream bars, SlimFast diet drinks and many other brands.
Foods with biotech ingredients already had labeling requirements in the European Union. But the new rules are tougher because they include ingredients such as vegetable oils and other highly refined products, such as soy lecithin, where the genetically modified DNA or resulting protein is no longer present or detectable in the final product.
New rules on tracking the origin and processing of foods require a paper trail "from farm to fork," according to the report.
Food already on the shelves before Sunday still can be sold without being relabeled.