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Labelling Decision In Line With Public Submissions

Genetically Modified Foods Labelling Decision in Line with Consultation Results

MOST people who took part in consultation over labelling genetically modified foods wanted to be able to identify these foods.

The Ministry of Health received a total of 5713 submissions of which 2273 were standard forms prepared and distributed by members of the public.

The submissions responded to a discussion document the Ministry produced which asked seven questions surrounding the labelling of genetically modified food.

The Minister of Health, Hon Wyatt Creech, considered the responses prior to attending the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Council last night. The council voted to extend the labelling requirements, and the Australian New Zealand Food Authority will now research how the decision can be implemented.

Ministry of Health Assignments Manager David Curry said many of the responses were detailed and some offered substantial information in support of their views.

Some clear themes emerged based around the discussion document's seven questions although there was also divergence of views, including within the food industry, he said.

Mr Curry said the food industry was divided on whether genetically modified foods that were virtually the same as conventional food should be labelled, and whether the identification should apply only to foods containing new or altered genetic material.

The industry groups who responded to the discussion document were also split over the timeframe for phasing in any labelling.

A little over half the standard forms came from the Nelson/Golden Bay area where some people had increased the issue's profile, and encouraged responses Mr Curry said.

"The common theme from individual submitters was that the consumer had a right to know whether the food they were buying was genetically modified," he said.

ENDS

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