The Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling—Genetically Modified
Material) Bill 2010 (the Bill) was introduced into the Senate on 16 November
2011 by Senators Xenophon and Siewert.
On 26 November 2010, the Senate adopted the Selection of Bills Committee
Report No. 15 of 2010 and referred the Bill to the Community Affairs
Legislation Committee (the Committee) for inquiry and report by 16 June 2011.
Conduct of the Inquiry
The committee advertised its inquiry in The Australian on 8
December 2010 and details of the inquiry, the Bill and associated documents
were placed on the committee's website. In addition, the committee contacted 46
organisations in writing alerting them to the inquiry and inviting them to make
a submission. A list of submissions can be found at Appendix 1.
The committee held two public hearings—in Canberra on 18 April 2011 and in
Melbourne on 19 April 2011. A list of witnesses who attended the hearings can
be found at Appendix 2. The Hansard transcript is available at:
The committee wishes to thank all those who assisted with the inquiry.
Chapter 2 of this report will explore the current regulatory framework
as it applies to labelling for GMM, what aspects of the Food Standards
Australia New Zealand Act 1991 the bill proposes to amend, and issues
raised during the committee's inquiry.
References to committee Hansard are to the proof Hansard; page numbers
may vary between the proof and the official Hansard transcript.
Key provisions of the Bill
The Bill would require Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to
develop and approve, within six months after the commencement of the section,
standards to prescribe that producers, manufacturers and distributors of food
containing genetically modified material (GMM) must list that material as an
ingredient on the food's label, irrespective of:
- The amount of GMM in the food;
- The manner in which the GMM made its way into the food; and
- The fact that the food was not intended to contain GMM.
FSANZ may subsequently revoke the GM food labelling standard and develop
and approve a new standard, provided it also complies with subsection (1) as
The Bill would also require FSANZ to develop guidelines of due diligence
by producers, manufacturers and distributors of GM-free food for the prevention
of contamination by GMM. These guidelines must be developed within six months
after the commencement of the section. The due diligence guidelines must
include, but are not limited to, provisions regarding:
- Verification of the chain of custody in relation to ingredients
used to produce GM-free food;
- Procurement or supply contract requirements for ingredients for
GM-free food; and
- Verification of testing and the results of testing GM-free food:
- Produced or manufactured in a high risk country; or
- Containing ingredients sourced from a high risk country.
Proposed new section 16E would require FSANZ to develop guidelines to
assist agencies involved in the compliance testing and enforcement of the
Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code in relation to a GM food labelling
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