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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2941 ..

MS HORODNY (continuing):

It is comforting that a moratorium exists on the sale of irradiated food products. If, or when, that moratorium is lifted, we, as consumers, will not necessarily have a guarantee that there will be adequate labelling from a public interest point of view. By agreeing to this Bill, the ACT will lead the way for the rest of the country. I quote from a letter that I was sent by the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations, which states:

I am writing to gain your support for the proposed Food (Amendment) Bill ...

... ... ...

A recent ANU survey Public Perceptions of Genetic Engineering ... was interested in the views of the public on genetic engineering ... the results demonstrated that the public wants genetically manipulated or engineered products to be labelled.

The letter goes on to say:

The ACT legislation will establish a precedent and may help to persuade other governments to similarly amend corresponding state Acts.

The letter adds that it is in the interests of the environment and the health of ACT consumers that this Bill be passed.

In relation to the issue of genetically engineered products, there are many significant issues which require community debate. The primary concern relates to the safety of these products and the safety procedures which have been put in place. Another letter that I have been sent, from the Australian Consumers Association, says:

The Consumers Association does not view genetic engineering as inherently positive or negative and recognises that many of the techniques may offer consumer benefits, but we are concerned that, to date, there has been little public debate. The main issues that such public debate is likely to centre around include:

... labelling ...

the safety of genetically modified food products and the safety assessment procedures that should be implemented

the benefits this technology may deliver and the potential risks

ethical, environmental and social/philosophical concerns.

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