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Agreement reached on GM food labelling in Australia

Consumers in Australia will soon be able to check
whether food contains genetically modified products.

The meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Food
Standards Council in Wellington has agreed on
mandatory labelling.

Australian state and territory health
ministers, New Zealand, and the
Commonwealth have pushed
through the labelling of all
genetically modified foodstuffs in
what is being described as a
victory for consumers.

There were seven votes for the
labelling and three against,
including the Commonwealth
Government, who had lobbied for a
1 per cent threshold.

The final details are now being
drafted and are expected to
include exemptions on restaurants
and takeaway foods.

Unintended contamination of less
than 1 per cent will also not require
labelling.

This could occur when
non-genetically modified food
comes into contact with genetically
modified food, such as when they
are in storage.


Reaction

The Food and Grocery Council says it will comply with
the health ministers' decision, but executive director
Mitchell Hooke wants more detail on what products will
be affected.

"One of the problems I've got with the details coming
out of New Zealand at the moment is we're still not that
sure about where this is going to apply in terms of
processing aids in the European Union model
processing aids are exempt," he said.

"If it's something different, then that could be a total
regime for Australia and a tougher one in terms of
compliance and therefore extra costs to industry and
consumers."

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