Celebrity chefs join demands for GM food labelling

Feature Story - 29 April, 2010
Celebrity chefs Ben Shewry from award-winning restaurant Attica and Andrew McConnell from Cutler and Co today are calling for the clear labelling of genetically modified (GM) food. They signed on to a 30,000-strong petition that Andrew is personally presenting to the government’s food labelling body.

Top chef Andrew McConnell wants clear labelling of genetically modified (GM) food.

The government has been reviewing food labelling laws since October last year. Its nationwide public consultation process is currently underway in Melbourne.

In Europe, all food made from GM ingredients must, by law, be labelled. In Australia, however, the majority of GM foods escape labelling because of loopholes in labelling laws.

'The current food-labelling laws are so weak that Australians are eating GM foods without knowing it; we are eating in the dark,' said Greenpeace Campaigner Laura Kelly.

'People are increasingly concerned about where their food has come from and making sure it is fresh and local. I think they also have a right to know if what they are eating is genetically modified,' said celebrity chef Ben Shewry. 'I can assure customers that GM is not welcome in my kitchen.'

Concerned community members outside today's public hearing calling for the proper labelling of GM foods.

GM food has been linked to heart disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer's and cancer. However, evidence suggests that Australia's food regulator, FSANZ, shows little concern when it comes to checking data provided by the companies that profit from putting risky genes into our foods.

FSANZ does not conduct or consider any independent scientific studies. Instead it leaves public health and safety in the hands of multinational chemical companies like Monsanto, which owns most of the patents for GM food in Australia. This is despite the clear conflict of interest. Former company directors of Monsanto have actually admitted to faking scientific data to get GM crops approved as safe.

Opinion polls and public response to Greenpeace's Chefs Charter and Truefood Guide show clearly the level of consumer and food industry opposition to GM foods,' said Kelly. 'Now Kevin Rudd's government needs to respect our right to know what's in our food and what we're feeding our families. This can only happen once the law is changed to ensure all GM foods are properly labeled.

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