Currently, all food containing plant matter faces rigorous testing to make sure there is nothing that has been genetically modified – before it enters Germany.
But the European Commission wants to change the rules so that food with traces of genetically modified ingredients would be allowed through, and could crop up in German shops, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Monday.
The Commission says the zero-tolerance approach is too inflexible and no longer sustainable. Even a dirty storage box could cause food to fail the GM-test.
But Consumer Minister Ilse Aigner of the Christian Democratic Party says the potential changes could make it harder for shoppers to make informed decisions about what they are buying and whether it is 100 percent GM-free.
Both EU Consumer Commissioner John Dalli and Germany’s leading association of the food industry (BLL) disagree, saying they would welcome the “logical” change.
The BLL said guaranteeing that food was absolutely free from GM ingredients was no longer possible, due to the way the market was operating.
In 2011 the zero-tolerance policy was expanded to include animal feed, but a lobby group for the animal feed sector has warned that if it too is not relaxed, farmers could face problems giving their stock enough food.
The agriculture ministry has not confirmed this would be the case though, the Süddeutsche Zeitung said.
Aigner would not only face opposition from the country’s food sector groups if she continues her campaign, but also from junior coalition partner the Free Democratic Party, which is in favour of relaxing standards.