Two thirds of Australians reject GMs

26 July 2000

Two thirds of Australians reject GMs

by Boyd Champness

Australians are deeply concerned about the safety of genetically modified food, with most saying they wouldnt eat it and an overwhelming majority in favor of compulsory labelling, an AC Nielsen AgePoll has found.

Ninety-three percent of respondents to the poll, conducted on behalf of The Age newspaper, said they wanted GM foods labelled, and 65% said they would not want it on their plates.

The poll should come as a warning to the food, agriculture and biotechnology sectors, elements of which have been pushing to introduce GM products on to Australian supermarket shelves.

The findings of the poll are consistent with surveys done by the body responsible for labelling, the Australian and New Zealand Food Authority.

The authoritys governing body, the council of federal, state and New Zealand Health Ministers, meets next week to discuss the contentious issue of labelling.

The authority has the arduous task of determining what level of GM material a food must contain before it comes under labelling requirements.

Prime Minister John Howard was attacked by green movements earlier in the year when he wrote to health ministers recommending that the threshold be set at 1%, but GM opponents argue a food product should only be considered non-GM if it contains zero material.

GeneEthic Network director Bob Phelps told The Age newspaper that under Mr Howards 1% threshold, only one of the genetically modified foods now on sale in Australia would need to be labelled.

And under their proposals, things like oils and sugars would not be labelled even if they had a much higher GM component because they argue DNA is broken down by the processing and they do not need to be labelled.

See more