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Ethical Eating by Angela Crocombe

Supermarket GM statements

Coles and Woolworths sell 75% of all groceries sold in Australia. These companies, along with IGA, Aldi and others have the power to respond quickly and effectively to what customers want. When reading their statements remember that Australia's labelling laws allow most GM ingredients to avoid labels. Ask the supermarkets whether the ingredients they use come from GM crops or processes or if the animals were fed GM feed.

No supermarket labels their homebrands as GM-Free. In 2015 the major supermarkets made official statements on their GM food policies:

  • Aldi
    "At ALDI Australia, we do not permit any products to contain food, ingredients or processing aids which require labelling as genetically modified, as defined by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code."
    "All ALDI suppliers are required to provide proof on request that genetically modified materials are not used in their products."

    Since almost no ingredients derived from a GM crop or process require labelling in Australia it is not clear whether consumers are eating GM food when they buy Aldi products or not.
    Aldi have introduced a voluntary ban on 6 food colourings that affect children’s behaviour.

  • Coles
    "No Coles brand food or drink products contain GM ingredients."

    "Coles supports clear labelling of all food and drink products. Current standards in Australia require that any genetically modified foods, ingredients, additives, or processing aids that contain novel DNA or protein must be labelled with the words 'genetically modified'."

    This is misleading as a bottle of canola oil made from 100% GM canola escapes labelling in Australia. Why? Because it is claimed the processing of the oil removes GM DNA and proteins and so no labels are required. In the EU the same bottle of oil would need a GM label. Therefore, once again, it is not clear whether Coles homebrands contain ingredients from a GM crop or process.

  • IGA Metcash homebrand:
    "Metcash [IGA wholesaler] has a longstanding position on GM/GE for our corporate branded products."

    "No GM ingredients, food additives, processing aids or enzymes are permitted to be used in our corporate branded products." "However, because of changes in the agricultural sector, it is becoming more difficult to unequivocally guarantee that no genetically modified stockfeed is fed to meat-, poultry-, dairy- and egg-producing animals."

    "GM crops grown cannot be prevented from cross contaminating non-GM crops. A limited meat/poultry supply base in Australia means that this is a shared issue in the food and grocery industry."
    This policy shows a more nuanced understanding of the GM issue but is still not clear enough to determine whether they use ingredients derived from GM crops or processes.

  • Woolworths:
    "We ensure our Macro organic meat range is from animals which have been fed on certified non-GM feed only." "Our own brand products do not contain GM ingredients."

    "The policy applies to all ingredients processed or otherwise."
    This policy is not clear enough to be certain whether ingredients may be GM or not.

  • GMO-ID Australia is a company that can test and certify food as non-GM. Please ask supermarkets to certify their products so we know what they are selling.