05 August 1999
GMs concern Australian farmers

AUSTRALIA and New Zealand have agreed to introduce mandatory labelling for genetically modified (GM) foods.

But Australias leading agricultural lobby, the National Farmers Federation, has expressed reservations about the decision.

It says the move could break World Trade Organisation rules if the labelling was interpreted as a non-tariff barrier.

The USA last week warned Japan that its recent moves towards mandatory labelling of GM foods could constitute unfair trade barriers.

Although Australian and New Zealand health ministers agreed in principle to label GM foods, a compromise was eventually agreed involving “threshold levels”.

This exempts food containing relatively low levels of GM ingredients.

A standard will be determined at the next meeting of the ministers in October and mandatory labelling is expected to be introduced within a year.