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Thursday, 30 September 2010
Page: 404

Senator LUDWIG (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (10:27 AM) —Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT —Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator LUDWIG —The government notes that it is already the case that approved genetically modified foods must be labelled if novel genetic material is in the food, except where there is the unintentional presence of GM material of less than one per cent. In addition, the motion would pre-empt the findings of a formal review into the issue of food labelling law and policy which is currently being undertaken by an independent expert panel headed by Dr Neal Blewett. All GM foods must undergo a rigorous premarket safety assessment by Food Standards Australia New Zealand before they are committed to be sold in Australia. Unapproved GM food cannot under Australian law be sold in Australia. Further consideration of labelling of genetically modified foods was identified in the issues paper for the Blewett review, which was released for public consultation as part of this review. The review panel is now considering the stakeholders’ perspective provided in the written submissions and other information gathered during the course of the review process to inform the development of its recommendations. The final report of the review panel will be provided to government through the Australian and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council in December 2010 and the Council of Australian Governments in early 2011. On those bases the government does not support the motion.