Food Labelling laws must be stronger, now

Posted by Josette Dunn on 3rd December 2010

The Food Regulation Ministerial Council will receive the Blewett report on national Food Labelling Law and Policy in Adelaide today but will not release it. Gene Ethics has called for immediate publication and says a delay of many months is unacceptable.”The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has no right to keep citizens waiting any longer for stronger food labelling laws,” says Bob Phelps, Gene Ethics’ Director.

“Governments must release the Blewett report to the community now so its findings are subject to further public discussion and comment before COAG presents us with a done deal.

“We suspect that shoppers will still be denied the information on food labels that is needed for real choice.

“The review was promised at the 2007 election and begun in October 2009 so there is no justice in keeping shoppers ill-informed any longer. Thousands of people submitted written comments to the review panel and hundreds attended the public hearings.

“The interested public demands the full labelling of foods made using genetic manipulation (GM) techniques, as well as other new food processes and materials (such as nano-materials) that have little history in our food supply and may be unsafe to eat,” he says.

“Since 1994, when public opinion was first tested, over 90% of Australians have backed full GM labelling but most GM foods remain exempt on the spurious grounds that they are refined so pose no hazard. Experimental animals and their offspring are harmed by some varieties of GM foods approved for sale in Australia.

“Country of Origin labelling was also overwhelmingly supported, as an antidote to the global trade in food commodities which cheats our domestic producers out of the local support that they deserve.

“If GM and cheap imported foods offered real benefits then food processing and retail industries should willingly back open and honest labelling of all their processed foods,” Mr Phelps concludes.