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Discussion paper on GM-free labelling system

Discussion paper on GM-free labelling system

A discussion paper on the development of a voluntary GM free labelling system for food and food products has been released today, says Consumer Affairs Minister Judith Tizard.

The discussion paper, released by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, is a starting point to help stakeholders develop a voluntary GM free labelling system by raising issues that need to be addressed in its development.

The paper results from a recommendation of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification.

“The Royal Commission had identified an information gap between mandatory labelling requirements and consumer demand for information about food that does not contain genetically modified material and has not been manufactured using a genetic modification process,” says Judith Tizard.

“This process gives people the opportunity to have their say on this issue and contribute to and become involved in the development of a voluntary labelling system.” The discussion paper: Sets out the issues around defining what GM free might mean Identifies the parameters/boundaries within which GM free claims may be tested and a labelling system must be developed Examines some of the reasons why consumers and suppliers may wish to become involved in developing a labelling system, and uses these to identify what information a labelling system could (or should) provide Looks at labelling as a tool to provide consumer information, and specific issues associated with the use of a GM free label Looks at the purpose of a voluntary labelling system Presents possible options for a voluntary labelling system Introduces some of the issues that should be considered when looking at possible labelling systems.

Judith Tizard says feedback on the discussion paper is sought from stakeholders on all the issues raised.

“Good labelling is essential for consumer choice, and so consumers, stakeholders and other interested parties will be able to make submissions on this discussion paper.

“Because the labelling system will be voluntary, responsibility for its development ultimately rests with stakeholders. These include consumers, consumer and GM interest groups, environmental, health, science and agricultural organisations, food manufacturers and suppliers.”

The paper specifically asks stakeholders to indicate whether they are willing to contribute to development of a labelling system.

Submissions on the discussion paper close on Friday, 30th May.

Officials from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority will then analyse the submissions, and liaise with stakeholders who are interested in contributing to the development of a GM free labelling system for food and food products.

Copies of the discussion paper are available from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (http:// http://www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz) and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (http:// http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz).

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