Fiji Times (Levuka, Fiji Islands)
November 1, 2005


All genetically modified products should be clearly labelled because
consumers have the right to know what they are eating and what
potential threat it could cause to their health and environment.

This is part of the Consumer Council of Fiji's submission on the
National Biosafety Framework on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO),
which Government is trying to set up.

This framework will provide an enabling mechanism for the regulation
of GMO import and use in the country.

The council's Manager [of] Information and Research Josua Mudreilagi
said they believed in the 'precautionary principle' of not to accept
something until the potential risks to human health and environments
were properly evaluated to render it safe.

He said the controversy with GM food was that some GM food companies
didn't always reveal what exact genetic material had been used in
their products.

GMO's have been around commercially for less than 20 years and Mr
Mudreilagi said their impact on the human health and environment were
yet to be properly assessed.

"The National Biosafety Framework, should include requirements for
full pre-market evaluation and social and safety impact assessments of
GM foods taking into account the guidelines adopted by the Codex
Alimentarius Commission," Mr Mudreilagi said. "Furthermore, there
should be mandatory 'GM' labelling food products that have GM

"Consumers have the right to know what plant or animal material they
are eating.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture's GMO Consultant Seema Deo,
it is not possible at this stage to be absolutely certain that there
are no GMOs in the country.

As there are no rules to prevent introduction of GM seeds and plants,
she said, there is consequently no documentation on this.

The biosafety survey that the Ministry is currently conducting will
help identify any possible sources of GMOs.

"However, to determine whether something is a GMO will require special
testing. In most cases, information from the importer and exporter can
also be used to help determine the origin of a product," Ms Deo said.

"As with GMOs, the current lack of any controls on GM foods means that
there is no data available. However, since a large portion of the
world's soy, corn and wheat is genetically modified in some way, it is
possible that many processed foods may contain traces of genetically
modified organisms."

Copyright 2005, Fiji Times Limited