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Stock-In-Trade Provision In GM Food Labelling

24 October 2001

ANZFA Adopts Stock-In-Trade Provision In GM Food Labelling

Health Minister Annette King says a majority of Australia New Zealand Food Authority ministers have agreed to allow a 12-month stock-in-trade provision for GM food labelling.

At a teleconference of health ministers from New Zealand, the federal Australian Government, and the Australian state governments today, Mrs King argued that mandatory GM food labelling should come into effect for all food on December 7 this year, as originally agreed.

“I had some support from individual states, either for our preferred position of a December 7 mandatory start, or for a compromise I suggested, a six-month delay. But most of the Australian ministers accepted the argument that some stock still on shelves would have a shelf life well beyond December 7, and that it would be an incredible waste to get rid of it as it was not a matter of food safety.

“The clinching arguments for the Australians concerned disadvantaging people living in rural areas, where the stock turnover for businesses is, of course, far slower than it is in city supermarkets, and imposing requirements that were too onerous for small manufacturers in particular.”

Mrs King said she was naturally disappointed the new labelling regime would not come into effect fully on December 7, but she said New Zealand would still soon be part of the most comprehensive labelling regime in the world.

“The issue is not one of food safety, but of consumer information. I am also sure that most unlabelled stock on New Zealand supermarket shelves will be sold in two to three months, and all stock manufactured on or after December 7 will have to be labelled. There is no evidence of any stockpiling in New Zealand.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the first stock appearing on shelves with the new labelling. The Australian ministers told me today that that is already happening in their supermarkets. Consumers will have the crucial say in the end because they will tend to buy goods providing the best information.”

Ends

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