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CONSUMERS & REGULATION: Australian politicians row over GM food labels



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   POLITICIANS ROW OVER GM LABELS

SOURCE:  Donnybrook - Bridgetown Mail, Australia

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.donnybrookmail.com.au/news/local/news/general/politicians-row-over-gm-labels/2071351.aspx

DATE:    09.02.2011

SUMMARY: "RESTAURANTS and fast food outlets will be forced to declare any foods that contain genetically modified ingredients in a recommendation made by a national review of food labelling, the Opposition?s agriculture spokesman Mick Murray said on Friday. [...] Mr Murray said the Independent Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy had recommended all food and ingredients that had been genetically modified be labelled, including food sold at chain food service outlets and in vending machines. ?Clear labelling will give consumers the right to choose between GM and non-GM products,? he said."

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POLITICIANS ROW OVER GM LABELS

RESTAURANTS and fast food outlets will be forced to declare any foods that contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients in a recommendation made by a national review of food labelling, the Opposition?s agriculture spokesman Mick Murray said on Friday.

But Agriculture Minister Terry Redman said current labelling laws were adequate.

Mr Murray said the Independent Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy had recommended all food and ingredients that had been genetically modified be labelled, including food sold at chain food service outlets and in vending machines.

?Clear labelling will give consumers the right to choose between GM and non-GM products,? he said.

?Consumers will welcome the recommendation to have restaurants, food chains and vending machines declare on menus or food displays if food has been genetically modified.

?The Barnett Government made the decision to introduce GM canola crops, against massive community outcry, and now Agriculture Minister Terry Redman must give consumers choice at the checkout by supporting the recommendations of the food labelling review.?

Mr Murray said the minister should support moves to give consumers choice.

?Mr Redman has been incredibly arrogant about his GM crop trial, only looking after the interests of GM crop farmers,? he said. ?It is time the minister started thinking about the entire agriculture industry for which he is responsible, not just those farmers who support his ill-considered GM crop experiment.?

Mr Murray made a submission to the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy calling for an easily distinguishing label or logo to indicate GM derived foods, no matter how small the percentage of the overall component.

He also called for meat and poultry that were fed GM grains, seeds and fodder to be labelled, as well as cooking oils.

Mr Redman said the federal government?s present Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) standard already required GM foods and ingredients (including food additives and processing aids from GM sources) to labelled with the words ?genetically modified? if novel DNA and/or protein from an approved GM variety was present in the final food.

?I continue to support choice for consumers through labelling requ-irements such as this,? he said. ?The fact is industry overwhelmingly wanted GM to help combat droughts and frosts and make them more internationally competitive. GM canola has been grown around the world for 14 years and is simply another crop variety that is proven to coexist with other farming systems.?

Mr Redman said Mr Murray wanted to rob WA farmers of choice and dictate how they should farm their properties.

?My perspective is neighbours and industry can work together so everyone has the right to implement a farming system of their choice ? whether that?s GM, conventional or organic,? he said.



                                  PART 2

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

TITLE:   CHEFS STIR UP THE HEAT ON GM FOOD

SOURCE:  The Daily Telegraph, Australia

AUTHOR:  Caroline Marcus

URL:     http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sunday-telegraph/chefs-stir-up-the-heat-on-gm-food/story-e6frewt0-1226000775444

DATE:    06.02.2011

SUMMARY: "THE knives are out and arguments are boiling as the nation?s top chefs debate their kitchen rules: should genetically modified food be served in restaurants? While more than 180 chefs have signed Greenpeace?s GM Free Charter since it was launched two years ago, an opposition group has now sprung up, claiming that signatories are ?ill-informed? and ?grandstanding?."

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CHEFS STIR UP THE HEAT ON GM FOOD

THE knives are out and arguments are boiling as the nation?s top chefs debate their kitchen rules: should genetically modified food be served in restaurants?

While more than 180 chefs have signed Greenpeace?s GM Free Charter since it was launched two years ago, an opposition group has now sprung up, claiming that signatories are ?ill-informed? and ?grandstanding?.

Some of the country?s top foodies, including Peter Gilmore of Quay, Neil Perry of Rockpool, Matt Moran of ARIA and Margaret Fulton, are signatories to the treaty, which states they are opposed to the use of GM foods in Australian restaurants.

Gilmore said he was against the principle of genetic engineering and found it unacceptable that current laws meant that food did not have to be labelled as being modified.

?When you start talking about fish genes in strawberries ... it becomes a concern,? Gilmore said.

?I don?t like the idea of consuming something that has been genetically modified. They have a lot of foreign organisms that are not supposed to be in food.

?At the end of the day, people have a right to be informed. It is really about freedom of information and the right to know.?

However, other chefs disagreed, saying the technology was a way to make food production sustainable.

Luke Mangan, of glass brasserie, has remained open to the use of GM foods since a blog he wrote in 2008 which said the innovation could ?potentially help millions of people around the world?.

Mangan said yesterday he had refused to sign the charter because he believed more discussion was required.

?More info is required but some benefits sound fantastic - drought resistance, higher levels of production and sustainability in the food supply,? he said.

Glenn Austin, founder of X-Treme Chef Consulting and the first Australian to be voted to the World Board of Chefs, criticised chefs who signed the charter. Austin, also the chef for Fonterra Global Executive, a multinational dairy company which supports gene modification, said: ?There are a few (chefs) who are trying to have a beat-up about it and they are quite ill-informed. If they went through their own cupboards, they would find that most of what is in there contains genetically modified food.?

Former deputy chief and current honorary fellow of the CSIRO Plant Industry, TJ Higgins, wrote to the chefs who signed the charter, asking them to reconsider their position.

?The mainstream chefs don?t have any problem with GM if they know a little bit about the science, but there are a lot of ?celebrity chefs? who have a different agenda,? Dr Higgins said. ?They are catering to a very select clientele who have strong philosophical views about how food is produced and they can afford those views.?

He said the technology would drive down costs for both farmers and consumers.

Greenpeace?s GM campaign leader, Laura Kelly, said the problem was families not having a choice about GM foods.

?Parents have a right to choose, particularly when it comes to GM, which has never been proven safe for kids to eat,? she said.

The organisation is launching its True Food Guide 2011 on March 2, with information about more than 1000 foods and beverages and whether they contain GM ingredients.



                                  PART 3

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

TITLE:   BLEWETT ?BLEW IT? ON GM REVIEW - GREENS

SOURCE:  Herald Sun, Australia

AUTHOR:  Australian Associated Press, Australia

URL:     http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/blewett-blew-it-on-gm-review-greens/story-e6frf7jx-1225996337041

DATE:    28.01.2011

SUMMARY: "Former health minister Neal Blewett?s long-awaited review was handed down today, offering 61 recommendations on how to overhaul Australia?s food and alcohol labelling laws. But in a controversial decision, the report cited no reason to change the current rule that means only foods containing detectable altered DNA or protein need to declare GM status. No label is needed if manufacturers say traces of GM are accidental."

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BLEWETT ?BLEW IT? ON GM REVIEW - GREENS

ANTI-GM advocates are up in arms following a recommendation to keep food labelling as is, arguing that kids and pregnant mothers will bear the burden.

Former health minister Neal Blewett?s long-awaited review was handed down today, offering 61 recommendations on how to overhaul Australia?s food and alcohol labelling laws.

But in a controversial decision, the report cited no reason to change the current rule that means only foods containing detectable altered DNA or protein need to declare GM (genetically modified) status.

No label is needed if manufacturers say traces of GM are accidental.

Gene Ethics executive director Bob Phelps said the recommendations meant Australians remain in the dark about which products contain GM ingredients.

?There will be no effective labelling of genetically manipulated foods and that?s not fair to shoppers,? he told reporters in Melbourne.

Greenpeace was even more succinct: ?Quite frankly Blewett blew it, and it?s Australian kids that bear the health risk,? GM campaigner Laura Kelly said in a statement.

MADGE, which represents mums, said the decision defied surveys which showed most shoppers wanted to be told the truth about genetic modification.

Anti-GM advocates argue that GM foods have been linked to a range of illnesses and health defects.

?Australians have been deceived for over a decade into buying food they wouldn?t otherwise have purchased if it had been truthfully labelled,? the organisation?s Madeleine Love said.

?Mothers are eating unlabelled GM food while they are pregnant and breastfeeding.

?They are feeding unlabelled GM ingredients to their babies through infant formula, and we expect through breastmilk as well.?

Just five of the report?s 61 recommendations relate to genetic modification, some Ms Love labelled ?trivial? concessions to the issue.

?The panel recommended that flavours be labelled if they contain GM residues, but we don?t know any that do.

?The panel recommended that restaurants and takeaways label GM ingredients, but since most GM ingredients escape labelling on supermarket shelves we don?t expect to see GM labels on menus.?

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, who has repeatedly pushed for change in the upper house, along with the Australian Greens, was also scathing of the finding.

?Based on the recent case where GM was found in baby formula ?by accident? over a number of years, this is an issue that favours the big companies and not the consumer.?

The most recent GM debate arose late last year after independent tests found traces of genetically-modified corn and soy in the popular baby formula S-26 Soy.

Manufacturer Wyeth Nutrition said the results were unintentional, and Australia?s food regulator FSANZ was forced to admit that its hands were tied.

One of the review?s recommendations suggests introducing a period of monitoring and testing in the event of ?adventitious? traces of GM.

The ministerial council is expected to deliver its response to the report by the end of the year.