What is GM food?
Genetic modification (GM) is a technology that takes genes from one life form and introduces them into another. Using GM, genes from bacteria, viruses, plants and animals are inserted into crops such as soybeans, canola, corn and cotton to grow commercial crops. These GM (geneticially modified) crops (also called genetically engineered crops) are processed into foods and sold in our stores.
What is wrong with GM crops?
There is growing scientific evidence that GM crops are harmful to the environment and may be harmful to human health. Once GM crops are released into the environment they can’t be recalled. As living organisms, they can reproduce and pollute indefinitely.
Is GM food safe to eat?
Although there have been no long-term studies into the impacts of GM food on human health, available studies give cause for serious concern. For example, a peer-reviewed study released in 2007 shows evidence of liver and kidney toxicity in rats fed an approved variety of GM corn. No follow-up studies have been conducted to determine the implications for human health of these results.
Aren't GM foods labelled already?
No. Under current labelling laws in Australia and New Zealand, very few GM foods are labelled. The following foods do not require GM labelling:
Do other countries label GM food?
Yes. In Europe, highly processed GM ingredients such as oil, starches and sugars have to be labelled, as does animal feed. GM food served in restaurants and takeaways also requires labelling. This shows that it is both practical and inexpensive to label GM foods.
Why is labelling particularly important now?
Until now the majority of food in Australia has been GM-free. However, this year GM food crops are being introduced to Australia, with GM canola grown in New South Wales and Victoria for the first time. Canola is used in many foods and in animal feed. Millions of Australians will be eating GM food without realising it.
Why do consumers want GM food labelled?
Polls show that 92% of Australians want GM food labelled. Consumers want GM food labelled for a wide range of health, environmental and ethical reasons.
For the first time, genetically modified (GM) food crops are being grown in Australia, posing potential risks to the environment and human health. However, there is currently no way for shoppers to ensure that their groceries are GM free, as labelling is not required for most products containing GM ingredients. Australians want GM food labelled for health, environmental and ethical reasons.
The Federal Government has so far failed to deliver on its policy commitments. Last year the Federal ALP promised not to approve the release of GM crops unless they could be proven safe "beyond reasonable doubt". The ALP's National conference last year also supported the “comprehensive labelling of genetically modified food".
Canola is used in many foods and in animal feed. With NSW and Victoria now allowing GM canola to be commercially grown for the first time, the Federal Government needs to deliver on these promises urgently.
Sign the petition to the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, the Honourable Nicola Roxon
We, the undersigned, call on the Federal Government, to keep its promises and to protect public health and consumer choice by introducing, and strictly enforcing, legislation to ensure that: