FSANZ claims it’s mandatory for GM foods to be identified on the label, “to assist consumers to purchase or avoid GM foods, depending on their own views and beliefs”. But how often have you seen “contains genetically modified …” actually declared on a food label?
This is because the labelling requirements under the Food Standards Code apply only to foods that contain artificially modified DNA or protein. Products such as canola oil that contain no DNA or protein don’t need to be labelled, even when they’re made entirely from GM canola. The same applies to products from animals fed GM feed such as canola meal. These do not require labelling on the grounds that GM protein or DNA cannot be detected in the end-products – meat, eggs or milk.
There’s no way that regulations with such big loopholes can enable consumers to make truly informed choices. If you want to avoid GM foods, you certainly can’t rely on the label (see cake frosting label, below, for an example of what we think labels should look like).
The label on this cake frosting, imported from the US, discloses its GM ingredients. Australian food manufacturers often use the same ingredients (imported from the US) and there’s clearly no real reason why their GM status shouldn’t be disclosed in the same way.