Italy has banned artificial milk with GM soy. A decree was passed by the Industry Ministry and will go into effect on its publication in the Official Gazette in the coming days.

Italy passed the decree as a precautionary measure and as a follow-up to its 1999 ban on the use of GMOs in baby food.

Meanwhile, Italy is now offering consumers real-time check on labelling of food sold as organic. Consumers can use Internet Sites and to seek more information.

The new centre-right government has said it will continue to give priority to organic farming, but there is concern among ecologists that it would not be to the degree of the previous administration in which the Agriculture and Environment portfolios were held by ranking members of the Green Party.

In fact, in a surprise move, the Government blocked legislation on sale of organic fertilisers for bio-agriculture for further study. The move was condemned by the organic farming sector.

Italy leads EU in cultivated area set aside for organic farming (about 1 million hectares) and the number of firms in the sector (over 50,000)

By Hilmi Toros, correspondent