Labelling is a very important process before the genetically modified product is sold.
Labelling is the advantage for consumers¡¦ right to know the ingredients of the product contains. It gives consumers comfort such that the GM foods are safe.
Policies on the labeling of GM foods are differed from country to country. The Condex Alimentarius Commision of the United nations is unlikely to be able to set internationally agreed standards before 2003. It gives a direction on how policies should be set, e.g. the way to address the definition of substantial equivalence, etc.
Here is the summary of policies around the world:
a) North America
Labelling of GM food is required only if the food is not substantially equivalent from its conventional counterpart in terms of composition, nutrition or toxicology.
Ø Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Ø U.S. Food and Drug Administration
All food products containing more than 1% genetically modified material are required to be labelled in countries of the European Union since 1998. However, all member countries have to amend their relevant regulations on GM foods before the enforcement of this new policy.
Ø Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Ø European Commission-Scientific Committee on Food
Ø Institute of Food Science and Technology
c) Australia and New Zealand
GM foods are required to be labeled if they are not substantially equivalent to their counterparts form May 1999. Subsequently, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council (ANZFSC) decided to amend the standard for GM foods and agreed to extend the labelling to all GM foods.
Ø Australia new Zealand Food Authority
Japan as a technology-leading country has drafted regulation which requires 28 food items containing genetically modified materials to be labeled from April 2001. This regulation will also apply to GM foods, expect oil and sauce, that are not substantially equivalent to their conventional counterparts.
In South Korea, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has also announced that labeling of genetically modified corn, soya bean and bean sprout will come into force in March 2001.
In Mainland China, the Ministry of Public Health promulgated novel Food Regulation in early 90s. All novel foods, included GM foods are subjected to safety assessments by a special committee before they are available in the market. However, specific regulations for GM foods are still under development.
Other places, like Singapore and Taiwan are also considering the way forward for labeling.
place we live ¡V Hong Kong
Kong does not have any commercial production of GM crops or livestock to date. However, there are biotechnological research studies conducting in
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is now studying the feasibility of
setting up a GM food labelling system to make informed choices to the consumers
to receive priority concern. At the
same time, the Department is providing the public with education on this area
and correct and balanced information. Public forums will be organized to collect opinions from the
public and the trade.
Ø The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of the Hong Kong Government