Australia’s food labelling laws state that any food containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients should be clearly labelled. Sounds good, so what is the problem then?
Well, unfortunately, GM labelling laws in Australia are not as simple and comprehensive as they seem. They are fraught with loopholes and exemptions, which mean we are being kept in the dark. Government and food companies often trot out the line that ‘all GM is already labelled in Australia’. This is misleading. We need to remind them that there are many exemptions in our current GM labelling laws, resulting in most GM products making it onto our supermarket shelves without being labelled. The popular baby formula, S-26 Soy formula, is one example.
These are some of the foods that don’t need to be labelled in Australia, even if they contain GM:
Food where GM ingredients are highly refined (eg: cooking oils, margarine, sugars, starches, chocolate, baked goods). Most processed foods fall into this category.
Foods made at bakeries, restaurants and takeaways. So a Big Mac could have GM ingredients and McDonalds would not have to tell you.
Foods from animals that are fed GM feed. Chickens, for example, are often fed GM feed. Research shows that GM feed has a negative impact on the animals that eat it. Despite this, food from these animals still doesn’t have to be labelled in Australia.
One of the biggest loopholes in our labelling laws is the “oops, it was an accident” defence. In Australia, GM labelling laws allow companies to include up to 1% GM organisms in our food without labelling it GM, so long as the GM is there “unintentionally” or by accident.
To make matters worse, our government rarely bothers to test if there is GM in our food, or make companies prove that it was an ‘accident’ their unlabelled product contains GM. Without adequate labelling and safety testing of all GM food, it becomes pretty clear why most Australians are eating in the dark. We have a right to know if our food contains GM – particularly the food we feed our children.
Tell Nicola Roxon MP you want GM in food labelled. Send an email now