Newspoll survey finds demand high for non-GM food

Posted by Editorial on 22nd September 2008

Ninety per cent of Australians want all genetically modified (GM) products labelled and are less likely to purchase such products, according to a recent Newspoll poll.
According to the poll, which was commissioned by anti-GM campaigners Greenpeace, when asked if food products from GM crops and animals fed with GM feed should or should not be labelled, 90% of the respondents said they should be labelled. The 25-34 age group was the most keen for labelling of GM food (95%), with the 18-24 age group indicating the least support for GM labelling (86%).

Fifty-four per cent of respondents outlined they would be less likely to purchase GM food if given a choice, while 2% said they would be more likely to buy it and 42 per cent suggested it would have no impact on their purchase. The 18-24 age group was once again the least concerned about GM-food, as 61 per cent reported that it would have no impact on their purchases. Across states the statistics were similar, except in Western Australia and Tasmania. WA consumers were more likely to show little concern as only 45% would be less likely to purchase compared to the Australia-wide leaders Tasmania – where 71% said they would be less likely to purchase GM-food.

Current labelling laws exempt oils and products derived from animals fed GM feed from being labelled and Greenpeace claim “loopholes” in the system need to be addressed – especially in the wake of the Newspoll survey.

Don Lazzaro, CEO of Pure Harvest, one of Australia’s largest manufacturers and distributors of natural and organic food, believes the standards in the EU are much stricter and should be implemented here in Australia. “In response to consumer demand, labelling laws in Europe now require even highly processed GM ingredients like canola oil, and animal feed to be labelled,” he said. “This shows that better labelling is practical and cost-effective, and, most importantly, it gives consumers the information they need to make an informed choice.”

A moratorium banning the production of GM canola was lifted in Victoria and New South Wales (the first time in Australia) earlier this year.