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Democrats back call for labelling on GMOs [Genetically Modified Organisms]

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja

Australian Democrats

Deputy Leader

Consumer Affairs Spokesperson


l2 March 1999





Australia’s first-ever Consensus Conference on genetic technology has resulte d in a unanimous report, calling for an all-encompassing labelling system for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The Conference also rejects the use of the term “substantial equivalence” in relation to all GMO foods.


The Australian Democrats’ Consumer Affairs and Science spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, said: “The Democrats endorse the citizens’ report and the consensus processes in its entirety. We call on the Government to implement its recommendations as soon as possible.


“It is invigorating to see the level of interest and comprehension of the lay panel in their questions and final report. The Convention demonstrates that issues of genetics belong to the public arena and not in the industry labs and regulatory bodies of Australia.


“The Government can not sweep this report under the carpet.


“Never before have we had such valuable community input on a community issue which has such potentially hazardous consequences. The Government must heed the concerns of the lay panel and it’s call for mandatory labelling of all foods containing genetically modified ingredients.


“There are two strong messages from this Convention: firstly, that the public are very aware and worried about the potential misuse of gene technology; and secondly, that labelling is necessary to allow consumers to exercise their right to make informed personal decisions about the technology and exercise their own personal ethics.


“I am not a Luddite, but a realist. As Father Des Coates said in his presentation “we don ‘t know what we don ‘t know “. It is true. We can not adequately test for adverse health and environmental impacts of GMOs when we do not know what the possible products that genetic manipulation may inadvertently produce, or what the long term environmental impact will be.


“We acknowledge that it could be a travesty if this potentially beneficial technology (for pure research and some medical applications) is jeopardised due to the poor management and short-sightedness of today’s regulators and legislators.


For comment contact Senator Stott Despoja on: 02 6277 3645 or 0418 812 589