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Guidelines for genetically modified foods

All foods derived from gene technology would be prohibited from sale until health and safety requirements were satisfied under a new draft food standard released for discussion today by Senator Bob Woods.

Senator Woods, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Family Services, said the draft food standard to regulate genetically modified foods was an important step towards ensuring public health and safety, support for industry and the appropriate harnessing of an important new technology.

The draft standard has been prepared by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) which is now seeking views from the public before finalising a standard.

"The integrity of Australia's food system hinges on an appropriate level of regulation which safeguards public health and consumer confidence while not burdening industry," Senator Woods said.

"The importance of gene technology to Australia is immense - we are in a position to benefit through improved production, greater industry efficiency and maximising our home- grown technological expertise in the world market.

"Tough guidelines guarding public safety and confidence will strengthen our system and underscore the integrity of Australia's food industry."

Senator Woods said public comment and submissions would be received up until April and then taken into account before ANZFA Board considers finalising the standard.

Further information:

Nicholas Harford, Senator Woods' office, 02 9689 2299; 0412 131 342

Jean Shannon, ANZFA, 06 271 2222