Government Should Accept the Umpire’s Call on Food Labelling

    20 February 2011

    CropLife Australia today welcomed the release of the much anticipated report by the Food Labelling Review Panel on food labelling arrangements in Australia, commending Dr Blewett and other members of the Panel for a professional report.

    CropLife’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Matthew Cossey, said, “Firstly we’d like to congratulate the members of the Blewett Panel for the excellent job they have done in genuinely consulting a very broad group of stakeholders on a multitude of issues. This was a once in a generation chance to set a vision for Australian food and the Panel has taken advantage of that opportunity.

    “CropLife supports many of the themes and recommendations of the report. We strongly agree that information should be provided to help consumers make healthy food choices, we agree that this information should be the best available and we share the Government’s vision of a vibrant, sustainable Australian food industry.

    “The plant science industry also welcomes the evidence and fact based approach that the Blewett Review has taken. There are several groups that exist in Australia who seem intent on scaring people about GM crops, so any discussion of GM labelling was always going to be contentious. We are grateful that the Panel reviewed the evidence and did not allow itself to be influenced by baseless and alarmist claims.”

    Mr Cossey also noted that the review had failed to deliver what the biotechnology industry was requesting – a move to a voluntary food labelling system, in line with the existing system regarding the fat, salt, or sugar content of food.

    “We agree with the report that there is no reason to expect that GM food ingredients are unsafe. We are therefore somewhat baffled that the report not only recommends continuing mandatory labelling but also recommends the further tightening of these requirements.

    In particular the need for monitoring and tests following the accidental presence of low levels of approved GM crops will impose costs on Australians at the checkout. CropLife calls on the Australian Government to approach this recommendation carefully in its response

    While our industry has not achieved the outcomes that we wanted we are pleased that at least some of the baseless food safety claims by activists have again been discredited. We are prepared to accept the umpire’s call and look forward to the Government’s response”.