By Boyd Champness

A DECISION on labelling genetically modified foods has been deferred for the third time by Australian and New Zealand health ministers.

Ministers meeting in Canberra last week decided to defer a vote on food labelling for the third time because they were unhappy with the proposals put forward by the food regulators.

The Australian Consumers Association, which last week received support from the Australian Medical Association and the Public Health Association for more comprehensive labelling, warned there are some ministers intent on pursuing labelling for only a tiny percentage of modified foods when the public clearly demanded a more comprehensive regime.

In December the ministers deferred for the second time and asked the Australia and New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) to draw up options.

But a spokeswoman for Queensland health minister Mrs Wendy Edmond told The Age newspaper that the ministers were still not happy with the ANZFAs proposals.

“[Mrs Edmond] is very disappointed with ANZFA. It has not really looked at it seriously enough. The proposals are not realistic,” said the spokeswoman.

According to the newspaper, the proposals are believed to include one option where only foods deemed “substantially not equivalent” to the original product are labelled.

The consumers association said this option would mean less than 1% of food on supermarket shelves would be labelled, which is not acceptable.