Some 80% of British consumers think that meat should carry GM labelling, new research has shown.

A study by the National Consumer Council (NCC) showed that 80% of consumers believed that meat from animals fed with GM feed should be clearly marked as such. The research was undertaken against a background of European Commission proposals to extend labelling to cover meat from animals fed with GM products.

Current EC proposals see any food with GM content of 1% or more labelled, but 42% of consumers indicated they wanted to see zero GM ‘contamination’ of foods, the NCC research revealed. Almost two-thirds (64%) said it was important that all foods containing any amount of GM ingredients should be labelled as such.

The EC proposals have exacerbated a transatlantic dispute over GM labelling, with the US said to be furious at EC plans to label all food containing more than 1% GM ingredients.

If they go ahead, the plans would cost the US US$4bn to bring their European exports into compliance, as well as undermining efforts to raise public confidence in agricultural biotechnology.

NCC chairman Deirdre Hutton said she was “amazed” the Food Standards Agency had decided not to support the extension of GM labelling.

“It flies in the face of what we know consumers want,” she said. “Not only is there strong support for information about GM ingredients generally, but more than half said they would still want to know specifically about GM derivatives in the food they eat.”