Greens tell of last-ditch effort to Labelling

Published: Wed 20 Oct 1999 01:46 PM
Greens tell of last-ditch effort to derail GE food labelling
A last-ditch attempt is being made by industry and the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) to derail mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods, Sue Kedgley, Green Party Health Spokesperson said today.
Health ministers of Australia and New Zealand meet on Friday, October 22 to decide whether or not to introduce mandatory labelling of all foods, including food additives and highly refined foods that have genetically engineered ingredients in them.
To stall for time and attempt to water down labelling provisions, ANZFA will argue that full mandatory labelling of all foods will impose unreasonable costs on industry and on consumers who purchase food, Ms Kedgley said.
They will use the results of an unpublished report by KPMG to back up their claims that full labelling is too expensive, she said.
"It is essential that the KPMG report is published so that we can all see the basis for these claims about costs," Ms Kedgley said. "Industry scare tactics routinely inflate labelling and compliance costs. Yet industry never complains about the huge amount of resource that goes into advertising and selling its products."
Ms Kedgley said consumer groups have been assured in background briefings that mandatory labelling of all foods would be introduced into Australia and New Zealand within twelve months. Consumers would be outraged if these plans were sabotaged by a last ditch pressure from industry, she said.
"The fact is that unlabelled GE foods may impose major health costs on the community," she said. "Scientists have warned us that GE foods containing genetic material that has never been in the human diet before could create new and undetectable toxins and allergens, new viruses and resistant infections."
To ensure that any potential health risk arising from GE foods can be traced back to its source, it is essential that they be labelled, she said.

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