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6-Regulation: Strict guidelines spell end of GM-free product claimsin New Zealand

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

TITLE:  Strict guidelines spell end of GM-free product claims
SOURCE: The New Zealand Herald, by Simon Collins
DATE:   16 Sep 2004 

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Strict guidelines spell end of GM-free product claims

New Zealand is unlikely to see claims of GM-free food after strict draft
guidelines issued by the Commerce Commission yesterday.

The new draft reaffirms the commission's longstanding policy that any
claim that a product is "GM-free" will breach the Fair Trading Act if it
contains any trace of genetically modified products, or if any of its
components have been made by a process involving genetic modification.

Food and Grocery Council director Brenda Cutress said most food
manufacturers would respond by simply not taking the risk of claiming
their products were GM-free.

"It's very, very complex making sure, for the hundreds of thousands of
ingredients that get used in food manufacturing, that nowhere in that
supply chain has GM been involved," she said.

But she said the commission had always taken the same "absolute stance",
so GM-free claims were already rare.

"What this paper does is create some certainty, and that's always a good

Commerce Commission chair Paula Rebstock said the paper would feed into
joint transtasman guidelines to be approved by the commission and
Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission.

The paper proposes that "GM" should mean not just a detectable trace of
GM products but any ingredients that were made by GM processes.

"Foodstuffs produced from GM soya or maize may contain neither protein
nor DNA resulting from genetic modification in their final form," it says.

"For example, lecithin, a commonly used emulsifier made from soya, would
contain no detectable levels of GM.

"This would also be the case for many of the refined cooking oils."

Testing for GM can be difficult but evidence can also be gathered through
examining production records, correspondence and other documentation,
enabling the commission to trace the use of GM "even where there is no
detectable level of GM in the final product".

Submissions on the paper close on October 11.


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