HOME  |   THE US-MALAYSIA FTA: IMPLICATIONS FOR MALAYSIAN SOCIETY
     
 
About FTAs
News
Events
Memoranda/Appeal Letters
Public Petition
Other USFTAs
Info from USA
Japan-Malaysia JMEPA
Other Japan FTAs
European Union-ASEAN FTA
Other European FTAs
Useful Links
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
About Us
 
Third World Network (TWN)

Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP)

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)

 

News:


CAP Worries FTA Threatens GM Food Labelling

Online Publication Date: 14 March 2007

Letter to the Editor

10 March 2007

Dear Sir,


Re: Labelling of Genetically Modified Foods

As a group representing consumer interests especially as regards food safety, CAP has been raising concerns about the risks of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), particularly in agriculture and in foods.

We were therefore very encouraged by the government’s efforts to protect health and the environment through two pieces of legislation: the Biosafety Bill (prepared by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment) and an amendment to the Food Regulations 1985 (under the Ministry of Health).

Both laws have been under consideration for the past several years now. They make it mandatory that food products containing GMOs should be labeled that they do contain GMOs. This is in line with legislation in many other countries, designed to protect consumers and the environment.

However we are now extremely concerned and anxious that these two laws are now threatened by proposals made in the negotiations for a free trade agreement with the United States.

The Biosafety Bill, which is under the purview of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has an enabling clause that provides for the identification and labelling of GMOs and items containing GMOs. The amendments to the food regulations come under the purview of the Ministry of Health.

It is imperative that both these Ministries expedite efforts to give effect to mandatory labelling of GMF.

There are several reasons why such mandatory labelling is important:

1) Labelling is important for consumer choice, so that consumers can choose whether or not they want to eat GM food.

2) There may be unintended effects of GMOs, such as potential allergenic effects. Labelling would let consumers know of the GMO content of the food, and would serve to warn those who have legitimate health concerns. For example, if a gene from a nut is used in a GMO, as many people have potentially fatal nut allergies, they would need to know the content of the food and labeling could meet this need.

3) Labelling would also serve to inform consumers about GMO content, particularly those who may have religious, ethical or moral concerns. For example, if a pig gene was used in the making of a GM food, Muslim consumers could be informed by an appropriate label. Likewise, if there are fish genes in GM tomatoes, vegetarians would need a label informing them that a food has a non-vegetarian GM gene.

4) Labelling would also push GMO exporting countries to segregate their GM and non-GM crops, shifting the burden to exporter countries, rather than to importing countries like Malaysia to detect and identify GMO shipments.

5) Mandatory labeling is required because companies are unlikely to adhere to labeling regarding GMO content if the labeling is only a voluntary measure,

More than forty countries around the world, including China, Japan, Australia and most European nations, already require mandatory labelling of GM foods. Under the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the joint WHO/FAO body regulating international food standards, the Committee on Food Labelling has been discussing a global standard for mandatory GM food labelling. The draft standard on GM labelling has support from a majority of the Committee, including Malaysia.

We understand that pressure is being exerted, including in the context of the Malaysia-US free trade agreement negotiations, for Malaysia to remove these mandatory labeling requirements.

Such demands are unreasonable and if they are agreed to it would mean that the health and environmental concerns of Malaysians will be pushed aside for the benefit of foreign companies selling food containing GMOs. We urge the government, particularly the Ministries concerned, not to bow to such pressure to change its biosafety and food-safety laws, and to continue with its policy to require mandatory labelling of GM food.



Yours sincerely,



S.M.Mohamed Idris
President

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Malay translation


Surat kepada Pengarang 12hb. Mac 2007

Tuan,

Per: Pelabelan Makanan Ubah Suai Genetik

Sebagai sebuah kumpulan yang mewakili kepentingan pengguna terutama yang membabitkan isu keselamatan makanan, CAP telah berulangkali menyuarakan kebimbangan mengenai risiko organisma yang diubah suai genetiknya (GMOs), khususnya dalam bidang pertanian dan makanan.

Oleh itu kami mengalu-alukan usaha kerajaan untuk melindungi kesihatan awam dan alam sekitar menerusi dua undang-undang: Rang Undang-undang Keselamatan Bio (yang disediakan oleh Kementerian Sumber Asli dan Alam Sekitar) dan pindaan kepada Peraturan Makanan 1985 (di bawah Kementerian Kesihatan).

Kedua-dua undang-undang tersebut telah dipertimbangkan sejak beberapa tahun lalu. Sebarang produk makanan yang mengandungi GMOs perlu dilabel sebagai mengandungi GMOs. Ini selaras dengan undang-undang di negara-negara lain yang dibentuk untuk melindungi pengguna dan alam sekitar.

Tetapi kami begitu bimbang memandangkan kedua-dua undang-undang tersebut kini diancam oleh cadangan yang dikemukakan melalui rundingan perjanjian perdagangan bebas dengan Amerika Syarikat.

Rang Undang-undang Keselamatan Bio, yang berada di bawah skop Kementerian Sumber Asli dan Alam Sekitar mempunyai satu klausa yang membabitkan pengenalpastian dan pelabelan GMOs dan barangan yang mengandungi GMOs. Pindaan kepada peraturan makanan itu berada di bawah bidang kuasa Kementerian Kesihatan.

Adalah penting kedua-dua Kementerian menyegerakan usaha agar kewajipan melabel makanan ubah suai genetik dikuatkuasakan.

Terdapat beberapa alasan kenapa pelabelan seumpamanya perlu diwajibkan.

1) Pelabelan adalah penting kerana pengguna berpeluang memilih sama ada mereka ingin memakan makanan GM atau tidak.


2) Mungkin terdapat kesan-kesan GMOs yang tidak diketahui, seperti berpotensi meninggalkan kesan alahan. Dengan melabel, para pengguna akan mengetahui kandungan GMO dalam makanan, dan diharap dapat memberi amaran kepada mereka yang menitikberatkan soal kesihatan. Misalnya, jika gen kacang digunakan dalam GMO, sebahagian besar pengguna yang alah kepada kacang sudah tentu ingin mengetahui kandungan makanan tersebut, dan pelabelan sudah pasti memenuhi keperluan ini.
3) Pelabelan juga perlu memaklumkan kepada pengguna mengenai kandungan GMO, terutama bagi mereka yang menitikberatkan soal agama, etika dan moral. Misalnya jika gen babi digunakan dalam makanan GM, pengguna Islam perlu dimaklumkan mengenainya melalui label yang sewajarnya. Begitu juga jika gen ikan dimasukkan ke dalam tomato GM, golongan pemakan sayur memerlukan label yang memaklumkan kepada mereka bahawa makanan tersebut mengandungi gen GM bukan pemakan sayur.


4) Pelabelan akan mendesak negara-negara yang mengeksport GMO supaya mengasingkan tanaman GM dan tanaman bukan GM mereka, dengan memindahkan beban itu kepada negara-negara pengeksport, dan bukannya negara-negara pengimport seperti Malaysia yang perlu mengesan dan mengenal pasti penghantaran GMO.


5) Pelabelan perlu diwajibkan pelaksanaannya kerana syarikat yang terbabit cenderung membelakangkan pelabelan kandungan GMO jika ia cuma perlu dibuat secara sukarela.


6) Lebih daripada 40 buah negara di seluruh dunia termasuk China, Jepun, Australia dan kebanyakan negara-negara Eropah sudah pun mewajibkan pelabelan makanan GMO. Di bawah Suruhanjaya Codex Alimentarius, iaitu pihak WHO dan FAO yang menyelia piawaian makanan, jawatankuasa Pelabelan Makanan telah membincangkan piawaian bagi pelabelan makanan GMO di seluruh dunia. Piawaian draf bagi pelabelan GM mendapat sokongan daripada majoriti ahli jawatankuasa berkenaan termasuk Malaysia.

Kami percaya tekanan telah dikenakan, termasuk dalam konteks rundingan perjanjian perdagangan bebas Malaysia-Amerika, di mana Malaysia dikehendaki mengubah keperluan melabel yang diwajibkan itu.

Tuntutan seumpamanya adalah tidak masuk akal dan jika mereka menyetujuinya, ia bermakna kebajikan warga Malaysia dan alam sekitarnya akan diketepikan demi kepentingan syarikat luar yang menjual makanan yang mengandungi GMOs. Kami menggesa kerajaan agar khususnya Kementerian-Kementerian yang terbabit agar tidak tunduk kepada desakan supaya diubah undang-undang mengenai keselamatan bio dan keselamatan makanan, tetapi sebaliknya meneruskan dasar yang mewajibkan pelabelan makanan GM.


Yang benar,


S.M. Mohamed Idris
Presiden




 

  printer Printer-friendly version


  back   Go Back

 
Copyright © FTA Malaysia 2006 - 2012   All rights reserved