Archived news articles - 2008

The Straits Times (Forum), 28 April 2008

GM food labelling in line with international practice

In his letter 'Don't be too quick to endorse GM foods' (ST 9 April 08), Mr Richard Seah Siew Sai questioned the safety of Genetically Modified (GM) food and suggested that all GM food must be labelled.

There is international consensus among national food safety authorities and the Codex Alimentarius Commission of the World Health Organization that GM food approved for sale in the international market are safe for human consumption. GM food has been available for more than a decade, and there has not been any report on adverse health effects based on credible scientific studies.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) requires GM food intended for sale in Singapore to be subject to rigorous assessment and approval in the developed countries.

On labelling, there is international agreement that labelling regimes are not a substitute for pre-market safety assessments. However, there is no consensus on the labelling of GM food and food ingredients to address consumer preferences. Many countries adopt the view that GM labeling need not be made mandatory, as there is no substantial difference between GM food and their conventional counterparts.

Singapore’s position on GM food labelling is in line with international requirements. As mandatory labelling of GM food is currently not an international practice, making it compulsory will curtail our sources of supply and increase food prices. Nevertheless, our Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC) and AVA will continue to monitor international developments closely to ensure that our labelling requirements are up to date. We are working closely with the international Codex Committee on Food Labelling to develop acceptable guidelines on the labelling of GM food.

We thank Mr Seah for this opportunity to clarify the matter. Mr Seah can contact the AVA at 6325 7625 if he needs further clarification on the subject.

Yours faithfully

Tan Kim Ping
for Chairman, Genetic Modification Advisory Committee

Goh Shih Yong
Assistant Director, Corporate Communications
for Chief Executive Officer, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority

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