Australian Companies Shifting to Non-GE As Labeling Laws Come Into Effect

Australian Companies Shifting
to Non-GE As Labeling Laws
Come Into Effect

The Canberra Times (Australia)
December 11, 2001

Food industry opts out of GM labelling costs

Major food processors have chosen to switch to using non-genetically
modified ingredients in response to new labelling regulations rather
than incur extra costs and risk possible negative consumer reactions.

Laws requiring most products which contain GM ingredients to be
labelled accordingly came into effect on Friday, but products with the
new labels have yet to hit supermarket shelves.

The law does not apply to products packaged prior to December 7.
However, the Australia New Zealand Food Authority has reported that
many manufacturers have indicated an intention to use ingredients made
from conventional rather than genetically modified crops. A
spokeswoman for the authority said yesterday that products labelled to
contain GM ingredients were expected to begin appearing in shops in
coming months. 'It will probably have soy in it, and it will probably
not be a well-known brand,' she said.

Smaller manufacturers who lacked the market power to change their
suppliers and had smaller production runs were expected to be the
first to comply with the new labelling laws.

The food industry's wary approach comes despite recent polls which
showed increasing consumer acceptance of GM foods. The latest survey,
based on a sample of 1000 people aged over 18 from throughout
Australia, rated GM as the least of several concerns.

While 75 per cent of those polled said they were concerned or very
concerned about GM foods and biotechnology, higher levels of concern
were recorded for bacterial contamination (89 per cent), use of
chemical pesticides (87 per cent), animal diseases that may be
transmitted to humans (85 per cent), poor nutritional qualities (84
per cent), pollution in soil or water where the food is produced (83
per cent), and use of antibiotics in animal feeds (83 per cent).

The survey was conducted by a Sydney market intelligence company for
Biotechnology Australia. Earlier this year, BA reported that 49 per
cent of Australians surveyed said they were willing to eat GM food, up
from only 25 per cent in 1999.

Friends of the Earth has called the regulations deceitful.


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