Lawmakers want labeling of foods containing GMOs

December 9, 2010 4:12 am 

MANILA, Dec. 8 — Two Mindanao lawmakers have filed a measure seeking to require the labeling of food, meat and poultry products that contain genetically engineered material or genetically modified organism (GMO) aimed to protect the interests of consumers from serious health risks.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother Abante Mindanao party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. filed House Bill No. 1402 "to aid consumers to know their rights whether the food they purchase contains or was produced with genetically engineered material."

Rodriguez said it has been reported that one genetic food supplement (tryptophan) has killed around 37 North Americans and permanently disabled 1,500 and many scientists feel that these foods have not been properly tested and pose serious health risks.

"Genetically engineering food is a new way of producing foods by taking DNA from one specie and inserting it into another. Given the huge complexity of the genetic code, no one can possibly predict the effects of adding new genes into any organism or plant," he said.

Rodriguez said it is the declared policy of the State to enforce compulsory labeling and fair packaging to enable the consumer to obtain accurate information as to the nature, quality, and quantity of the contents of consumer products and to facilitate comparison of the value of such products.

The bill defines genetically engineered material as material derived from any part of a genetically engineered organism, without regard to whether the altered molecular or cellular characteristics of the organism are detectable in the market, he explained.

Genetically Engineered Organism, on the other hand, means an organism that has been altered at the molecular or cellular level by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes (including but not limited to recombinant DNA and RNA techniques cell fusion, microencapsulation, macroencapsulation, gene deletion and doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the position of genes), other than a means consisting exclusively of breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization or tissue culture.

Under the measure, otherwise known as "Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act," all food, poultry and meat products domestically sold, whether manufactured locally or imported, shall provide notices that such product contains a genetically engineered material or was produced with a generically engineered material.

It directs the Department of Health (DOH) to enforce the rules and regulations with respect to food, and the Department of Agriculture (DA) with respect to products related to agriculture.

Violators will be slapped with a P100,000 fine and two years imprisonment. (PNA)

scs/LGI

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