If you are going to “do the Codex”, you better already be in Paris.  Next week, you will be in Xian, China and you will finish out April in Izmir, Turkey.  In May, it’s back around the world to Quebec City, Canada.

Yesterday in Paris, the Codex Committee on General Principals got underway for a week.  Next Monday, the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues begins its week of work in Xian.   Then the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food finishes up the last week of April in Izmir.

And, on May 3, the Codex Committee on Food Labeling will gather in Quebec.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is attached to both the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations and the World Health Organizations. Codex fulfills important functions when it comes to world food safety.

In Quebec, delegates from the 180 Codex countries are going to replay a familiar debate over whether or not genetically modified food should be so labeled.

Since Bill Clinton was President, the United States has favored a voluntary labeling strategy.  Labeling of GM food would be required only if important end characteristics required it, such as the potential for allergies or nutritional changes.

Mandatory labeling for GM foods is favored by the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.  The impasse has left Canada mediating between the camps and hosting a lot of meetings on the issue.

In Paris this week, the Codex Committee on General Principals is considering a revised Code of Ethics for International Trade in Foods, risk analysis policies, and a definition for what constitutes a “competent authority.”

The agenda for the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues in Xian beginning on April 19 is a long one.  The committee will set Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for certain foods and animal feeds including certain fruits and vegetables.

The Codex Committee on Contaminates in Foods on April 26 in Izmir will begin taking up a draft code for reducing ethyl carbonate in stone fruit distillates.  It is also scheduled to take up maximum levels for Melamine in food and feed.

But, it’s the Codex Committee on Food Labeling that is likely to get the most attention.   While GM food is becoming increasing common around the world, so too have requirements for consumer-friendly labeling.

That makes the U.S. goal of getting Codex to drop its work on GM food labeling all the more difficult.