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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2938 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

in accordance with the procedures in Part 3 of the National Food Authority Act 1991 unless a food standard is necessary to be made as a matter of urgency to protect public health and safety.

The two issues addressed by Mr Connolly in his Bill, namely irradiated food and food which has been subjected to a process or treatment involving genetic engineering, are both the subject of proposals to develop standards under way within the Authority.

The moratorium on the sale of irradiated food has been extended by agreement with all States and Territories, -

I stress that -

pending the development of a standard by the Authority. The Authority has recently completed its full assessment and will release a draft standard for public comment shortly. It is therefore not necessary for the ACT to make a standard as a matter of urgency to protect public health and safety.

It cannot be a matter of urgency, because the moratorium has been extended by agreement between all States and Territories. I continue to quote:

The Authority is unaware of any genetically engineered foods available in Australia. A number of nature identical food processing aids and veterinary drugs produced by genetically engineered micro-organisms have been approved on a case-by-case basis but the use of these in food production does not alter the genetic or chemical composition of the food produced. These include:

chymosin used in cheesemaking

three microbial enzymes used in the brewing and baking industries

porcine somatotropin (PST) produced by genetically engineered bacteria which contain a pig gene.

The authority has approved these on a case-by-case basis, but the final product is not chemically or, for that matter, in any way different from a product not produced in that way. I go on:

The Authority is aware of the community's clear desire to be able to make informed choices about foods produced for genetically engineered organisms. However, mandatory labelling requirements could imply differences where none can be detected and could, therefore, be a source of misinformation to consumers.

I repeat: Misinformation to consumers. I continue:

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