Australian food council welcomes findings of GM inquiry

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: New zealand, Australia, Food industry, Genetically modified organism, Gm

A New Zealand government inquiry which urged the South Pacific
nation not to reject genetically modified (GM) foods was welcomed
by the Australian food industry on Tuesday but slammed by consumer
activists.

A New Zealand government inquiry which urged the South Pacific nation not to reject genetically modified (GM) foods was welcomed by the Australian food industry on Tuesday but slammed by consumer activists, Reuters reports. A Royal Commission, the most far-reaching investigation a New Zealand government can order, on Monday rejected the idea of a GM-free country by recommending loosened curbs on low-risk GM applications while calling for rigorous case-by-case testing.The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said the New Zealand report effectively dismissed as unfounded the concerns of those opposed to GM foods and sanctioned industry access to the technology and consumer access to GM products. The Commission's commendation of Australia and New Zealand's trans-Tasman regulatory arrangements as "conscientious and sound" was a vote of confidence, AFGC chief executive Mitchell Hooke said in a statement. "The findings should give confidence to those Australian states/territories and ... other countries still embroiled in internal debates, about how to accommodate this new biotechnology in both a regulatory and commercial sense,"​ he said. The Commission concluded that GM food was safe to eat, that regulations governing the experimentation, release and use of GM ingredients in foods were rigorous and that people could make informed choices on labelled products, he said. The Australian Consumer Association (ACA), however, described the report's findings as "contradictory"​. "It really does seem to be an exercise of trying to walk the political tight.-rope between agriculture and health interests. It just does not stand up under scrutiny,"​ ACA food policy officer Rebecca Smith told Reuters. The Royal Commission's recommendation that the trans-Tasman Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) should be responsible for prosecuting significant breaches of food standards was impractical given resources, she said. Its recommendation that ANZFA should test for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as part of its total diet survey were "absolutely unacceptable"​ because of the length of time it took to complete the surveys, she said. "But at the same time I don't think its the final nail in the coffin of our efforts,"​ she said. Hooke said the AFGC was already addressing specific recommendations of the Royal Commission. These included monitoring research studies on stockfeed and facilitating a voluntary label indicating that food had not been modified, contained no GM ingredients and had not been manufactured using a process involving GMOs. They also included dissemination of information on the labelling of GM food and consumer rights about unpackaged food through restaurants and takeaway outlets, and on the use of GM food in production. Australian and New Zealand food regulations are administered by the ANZFA but the agency does not have any real legal force.

Related topics: Policy

Related news

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars