GM free alcohol guide

Genetically modified ingredients are slipping under the radar and into some foods – possibly your favourite glass of red.
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  • Updated:8 Jul 2009

01.GM free alcohol guide

A pocket-sized guide listing alcoholic drinks free of genetically modified ingredients was launched by Greenpeace yesterday, with the support of farmers, chefs and well-known food industry figures.

The alcoholic drinks edition of Greenpeace’s True Food Guide has a green and red list of alcoholic drinks, indicating those brands that reject GM and others that may contain GM-derived ingredients respectively.

Brands on the green list include Tooheys, Tyrrell’s and Beck’s, while some of those in the red are Absolut, Cascade and VB.

“Genetic engineering of grape vines and yeasts, currently being researched, is not the answer to challenges facing Australia’s wine industry,” said leading Australian wine writer Max Allen. “The environmental issues are becoming increasingly important for consumers.”

According to Greenpeace, once GM crops are released they cannot be recalled and there are no long-term studies looking into the impacts of GM food.

While most Australian wines are GM-free, Greenpeace campaigner Holly Shiach says ingredients derived from GM soy, maize (corn), canola and cottonseed are used by some brewers, distillers and winemakers in Australia and overseas.

"Genetically engineered maize is the main source of contamination in beer, through the use of imported flaked or cracked maize, corn syrup, glucose, maltodextrin and dextrin," says Shiach.

Greenpeace says spirits, liqueurs and pre-mixed drinks are susceptible to GM contamination where imported corn and soy derivatives are used. Top distillers are adopting non-GE policies for their spirit brands, for example, Lion Nathan rates GM-free for Bacardi.

Imported drinks are more susceptible to contamination from GM-derived ingredients, especially where the US is the country of origin. Brands such as Miller Draught, Coronaand Jim Beam may contain GM-derived ingredients.

Current labelling laws mean Australian consumers can’t tell which foods contain ingredients derived from GM products.

Highly refined GM ingredients such as corn syrup and canola and cottonseed oils don’t need to be labelled as genetically modified at present.

“These GM ingredients may be in margarine spreads, confectionery, biscuits, cakes, crisps, cooking oils, mayonnaise and even drinks but consumers wouldn’t be able to tell,” says Senior Policy Officer Clare Hughes.

CHOICE believes food labelling laws should require more information about GM foods.

“We know consumers want information about what is and isn’t in their foods. The new alcoholic beverages guide helps them make an informed decision about what they are eating and drinking,” says Hughes.

The Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council will soon launch a review of Australia’s food labelling laws and policy, which will consider all aspects of food labelling, including GM labelling laws.

To see where some of your favourite brands stand, check out the True Food Guide.


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