Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon is calling for the Federal Government to reform Australia’s food labelling laws, after a research campaign by Greenpeace found genetically modified (GM) ingredients in the S-26 Soy brand of infant formula, which were not disclosed on the product label.
“The issue is that Australian consumers are not being told whether there is any GM organisms in their food, because at the moment if it’s an inadvertent or accidental insertion of GM and it’s less than one percent it doesn’t have to be disclosed,” Mr Xenophon told Neos Kosmos. “If something is going to cause health affects it doesn’t matter if it’s five percent or one percent.”
The current legislation is not good enough, Mr Xenophon said. “Particularly when you’re dealing with instant formula, the concern is that there is a lack of clear scientific evidence that these foods are absolutely safe. Many scientists say the jury is still out when it comes to GM modified food, and therefore we need to be very cautious, particularly with instant formula,” he said.
Mr Xenophon said he and Greens senator Rachel Siewert will introduce a joint bill to toughen up Australia’s food labelling laws following a Greenpeace protest that took place outside Parliament House in Canberra last week.
“We’ll be addressing all foods containing GM organisms but with an absolute priority on instant formula. The problem is highlighted with instant formula because infants are much more vulnerable,” Mr Xenophon said.
Wyeth Nutrition, part of the global Pfizer group which produces S26 Soy, said in a statement that it had a strict policy of using only non-genetically modified ingredients in all its infant formulas.
The statement said it is “well recognised” by health authorities that non-GMO products could unintentionally contain traces of GMOs as a result of cross-pollination during cultivation, harvesting, storage, transport or processing.
“It is important to note that trace amounts of GMO do not present a health or safety threat to infants,” the company said.