Posted by: Mahdi Ebrahimi | December 3, 2007

Premier comes a cropper with GM claim

VICTORIAN Premier John Brumby has blown a hole in his argument for consumer choice over genetically modified (GM) foods, admitting the public won’t always know the origins of what they are eating.

Mr Brumby today said the overnment’s decision to allow GM canola crops had nothing to do with federal food labelling standards because there was already a proliferation of imported GM foods in the state.

He went on to say that eating GM foods was a matter of consumer choice but in the same breath acknowledged not all GM products would be labelled.

Opponents hit out at the Pemier’s “misinformed” remarks, saying no GM foods were labelled in Australia and consumers would be unwittingly exposed.

The debate rages after the Victorian Gvernment yesterday announced it would lift a ban on GM canola crops on February 29.

“Our decision yesterday really doesn’t have anything to do with food labelling or food standards since large amounts of (GM) food are already imported to our state,” Mr Brumby said.

“Where there are low levels these things are not declared. Where there are significant levels they are declared and I think that’s a good thing because it’s about giving consumers choice so they can choose organic, they can choose GM-free or they can choose other food products which may have low levels of GM food in them.”

Mr Brumby said 92 per cent of the world’s soy products were genetically modified.

Vegetable oil and cotton seed were also GM staples, he said, declaring: “The reality is that many of the foods around the world that we consume in our daily lives have elements of GM in them”.

Mr Brumby said Food Standards Australia had strict protocols to regulate the labelling of GM foods.

But Gene Ethics spokesman Bob Phelps said that was “absolutely untrue”.

Of the 32 GM products approved for sale in Australia only soy containing oleic acid had to be labelled and there was none on the Australian market.

Mr Phelps said the only known GM product in the home-grown food chain was cotton seed oil, used in fast frying.

The extent of other, imported, GM foods was unknown.

“Nothing is labelled so we can’t tell,” Mr Phelps said Gene Ethics is pushing for all foods produced using gene manipulation to be labelled.

“To put this stuff out there while keeping people in the dark is just unfair … they’re taking every shoppers’ choice away by not labelling and they’re also, of course, taking away the majority of the food industry that doesn’t want it either,” Mr Phelps said.



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