I received this article written by Desta Itote of Australian certified organic today, and I believe it would interest many of our subscribers so have reproduced below.

“The GM (genetic modification) debate continues both in Australia and internationally, but consumers remain confused and under-educated about the realities of GM food production and how it relates to food on the supermarket shelves.

As moratoriums are lifted and regulations relaxed, ‘Truth in Labelling’ campaigns around the world are calling for better regulation and labelling of foods containing GM products or derivatives.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand states that: “GM foods, ingredients, additives, or processing aids which contain novel DNA or protein that has come from an approved GM food must be labelled with the words ‘genetically modified’”.

However, certain exemptions from labelling laws mean a large percentage of the food available in supermarkets, such as items listed in the TrueFood Guide – published by GreenPeace – may contain genetically modified products and derivatives.

Highly processed products such as oil and sugar (DNA is removed through processing) and those that unintentionally contain “no more than 1 percent (per ingredient) of an approved GM food” are also not required to declare GM content on food labels.

But consumers are now demanding greater choice. In a survey conducted by market research company Mobium Group for BFA in 2010, 80 per cent of consumers surveyed indicated that the GMO-free aspect of organic food is important to them.

Australian organic certifying bodies such as Australian certified organic (ACO) and the standards that underpin their programs currently take a zero tolerance approach to GM.

The recent legal dispute over liability for GM canola infiltration in WA producer Stephen Marsh’s certified organic crops has GM advocates claiming that the organic industry’s zero tolerance approach to GM – as set out in the Australian Organic Standard 6000 – is illogical, unrealistic and unreasonable.

Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) standards convenor Dr Andrew Monk says the zero tolerance approach is, at this time, not negotiable.

“The relevant base standards in Australia, as well as the Australian certified organic Standard behind the Bud logo, clearly require zero tolerance for GM in end food products produced in Australia and prohibit ingredients derived from known GM sources (hence even canola oil, pervasive in the food industry in many products, is prohibited unless from a known non GMO source),” he says.

“This is unlikely to change anytime soon as this is ultimately driven by the marketplace (ie consumers). Consumers are stating quite clearly what they want and don’t want, and what they are still concerned about.

“The organic industry is obligated to seriously consider and incorporate such views when making decisions in this space.”

In a 2010 submission to the Blewett Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy, the BFA requested that labelling reflect, more clearly and accurately, “all GM and GM derived products or ingredients” in order to protect the consumer’s right to make an informed choice.

“At this point in time, organic remains one of few choices consumers have to select GMO free. While this reality remains the industry would not be acting in the consumer’s favour by dropping this requirement [for organic products to be free from GMOs],” says Dr Monk.

What GM foods are approved in Australia?

– Soybeans imported from the United States and found in a wide range of doos such as chocolates, potato chips, margarine, mayonnaise, biscuits and bread

– cottonseed oil from GM cotton used by the food industry for frying,  in mayonnaise and salad dressings

-GM corn imported and used in breakfast cereal, corn chips and gravy mixes.

– GM canola

– Popular Australian household item vegemite may also contain GMOs.

(Source: Department of Agriculture and food WA & Truefood Guide, Greenpeace) “

Tags: , , ,