European Union agriculture ministers have finally reached a political agreement on labelling requirements for genetically modified food and animal feed.

The Agriculture Council agreed by a majority decision that food containing more than 0.9% GM material will have to be labelled as containing genetically modified organisms. Seven EU nations had been hoping for the threshold to be changed to 0.5%, while others such as Britain were hoping for a 1% threshold.

The council also agreed that current legislation on the labelling of GM material in food should be extended to include food or ingredients produced from GM crops, for example soya or maize oil produced from GM-soya or GM-maize and biscuits produced using maize oil from GM-maize. The agreement also introduces for the first time requirements for the labelling of animal feed containing GM material.

The Agriculture Council’s agreement will now go to the European Parliament, which will have to give its approval before any new legislation can come into effect.

EU commissioner for health and consumer protection, David Byrne, welcomed the agreement for enabling consumer choice but he also voiced his disapproval for so-called “scaremongering” about GMOs:

“Every GMO authorised in the EU has been evaluated for its safety by independent scientists and there are no known adverse effects on human health from eating GMOs,” Byrne said.