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GM labelling recommendations must be publicly released – Greens

The Australian Greens say many people don’t realise they are buying GM products in stores and supermarkets, with current labelling loopholes making it practically impossible for them to be avoided.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens Health spokesperson says the recommendations of the Independent Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy should be made public upon their presentation to the Australian New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council meeting in Adelaide, ahead of a COAG decision on food labelling, which is due in February.

“The Review Panel will be making recommendations on the future of GM food labelling in Australia,” Senator Siewert said.

“Our current system is nothing short of misleading, despite there being a strong public desire to be better informed about the GM products being sold.

“It is practically impossible to know from current labelling whether or not GM products have been used in food production. This is especially true of processed foods.

“Current labelling loopholes mean that foods such as oils, sugars and starches from GM crops; products from animals fed GM food; GM additives, and processing aids and flavourings do not require labelling.

“We’re not even told if the meat we buy comes from animals raised on GM crops, because there is currently no legal requirement for this to be on the label.

“People should have the ability to easily determine which products contain GM ingredients, so that they can make informed choices.

“Senator Nick Xenophon and I have introduced the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling - Genetically Modified Material) Bill 2010 to the Senate, which would see Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) introduce standardised labelling for all geneticallymodified material and the development of due diligence guidelines for products making a ‘GM free’ claim.

“We will be looking for COAG to take the leadership required and introduce international best practice food labelling – with provisions that ensure the full labelling of all GM materials in foods.

The release of the review panel’s recommendations is a necessary step to ensure that the required changes are being considered,” Senator Siewert concluded.

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