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3-Food: Indonesian Muslims can consume GMO foods

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TITLE:  Indonesian Muslims can consume GMO foods: MUI
SOURCE: German Press Agency, posted by checkbiotech/Syngenta
DATE:   Jul 7, 2003

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Indonesian Muslims can consume GMO foods: MUI

JAKARTA (DPA) -- Indonesia's leading authority on Islamic affairs has
given the go-ahead for the consumption of imported genetically modified
organism (GMO) foods, one of its members said Monday.

"Despite there being no official ruling on the GMO-based food products,
as long as it comes from plantations, such as soya bean or corn, there
are no problems," said professor Aisyah Girindra, head of the medicine
and food supervision at the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI).

MUI, is the highest Indonesian Moslem body authorized to release
religious rulings or labels of halal, allowed by Islamic teaching, on
processed food products distributed in the country.

"Unofficially, we have discussed the GMO issue but, until now, there is
no official fatwa (legal advice) yet issued on the matter," Girindra told
Deutsche Presse-Agentur in a telephone conversation.

Without a fatwa, Indonesian Muslims remain free to consume GMO products,
Girindra added.

In many countries, GMO imports are restricted due to fears of unknown
side-affects from consuming food products whose natural genetic makeup
has been altered by man.

Nearly 88 per cent of Indonesia's 215 million people are Muslims, making
it the world's most populous Islamic nation.

While the country's religious leaders appear unconcerned about the GMO
issue, the Indonesian Consumers Institute (YLKI) has urged the government
to issue regulations requiring all imported processed foods, including
those derived from GMO products, undergo health examinations before
entering the domestic market.

"Our aim is just to make sure that those imported food products are safe
for consumers, and that there is no side-effect for the people," said
Iliani, an activist of YLKI.

Iliani said along with activists from several non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), YLKI had found a number of GMO-based food products,
such as corn flakes, already on the Indonesian domestic market without a
health screening process.

Indonesia currently places no import restrictions on GMO foods, most of
which come from the United States, nor does it impose labelling
requirements on GMO products.


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