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Watchdog calls for accurate labelling of GM imports

Published on 21 November, 2006, Last updated at 10:10 GMT


Australia's consumer watchdog has called for any genetically modified (GM) imports to be labelled accurately.

Choice, formerly known as the Australian Consumers Association, has raised the concern amid speculation that a major grain handler is expecting a consignment of GM canola from Canada within the next month.

Domestic canola supplies are tight this season due to the drought.

Choice spokeswoman Claire Hughes says consumers will not know they are eating GM canola oil.

"If we do start to see a large amount of genetically modified canola coming into Australia, if it's going to be processed and used as oil, consumers wouldn't necessarily know if a product they're purchasing has been genetically modified or does contain genetically modified canola oil," she said.

"Because our GM labelling laws don't require a product that has been highly refined, those products don't have to be labelled and canola oil is a good example of that."

Federal Minister for Agriculture Peter McGauran says he is aware of the imports, which are intended for use in oil for human consumption and meal for stockfeed.

He says the consignment has been independently sampled and tested before loading to confirm that only GM lines approved by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator are allowed in.

The Minister says GM canola has been assessed as meeting Australia's strict quarantine standards and the canola will be checked on arrival, to ensure there are no contaminants or weedseeds present.


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