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3-Food: Australian food retailers avoid GE ingredients

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Gene labels scare off food makers
SOURCE: Sydney morning Herald, Australia, by Mark Metherell
DATE:   November 15, 2001

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Gene labels scare off food makers

Food manufacturers are discarding genetically modified ingredients from 
their products to avoid having to display GM food labels from next month. 
Big food companies have caved in to consumer resistance and sought non-GM 
sources for ingredients. Despite earlier industry estimates that 40 to 60 
per cent of processed foods included GM ingredients, the largest 
supermarket chain, Woolworths, now expects only "a handful" of its house 
brands may require GM labels.

The Australia New Zealand Food Authority says some packaged foods 
containing ingredients from GM approved crops are being sold now. These 
include foods containing GM cottonseed oil, canola, soybean, sugar beet and 
potato. All packaged food with GM ingredients manufactured from December 7 
will have to list GM ingredients, with exceptions relating to highly 
refined oils and sugars, and flavours.

Industry sources say the recipes for some packaged foods would have to 
change to meet what are regarded as the world's toughest GM label rules. 
The changes are not expected to raise prices. Australia's biggest food 
conglomerate, Goodman Fielder, says it has changed suppliers of some 
ingredients - but not many - to meet the new rules.

None of its brands would require a GM label, Goodman Fielder's corporate 
affairs director, Robert Hadler, said. The company had checked thousands of 
sources worldwide to ensure they were non-GM. "The customer is always right 
and the customer is concerned about the effects of GM ingredients. The 
major retailers don't want products with GM in them," Mr Hadler said.

The 40-60 per cent estimate of GM food was "a worst-case scenario" 
estimated before Australasian food ministers agreed to the label regime in 
July last year. The decision came after a Herald poll showed 93 per cent of 
Australians wanted GM labels. Sanitarium's technical manager, Dr Greg 
Gambrill, said his company had done "an enormous amount of work" to arrange 
non-GM sources for ingredients such as soy beans.


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