A Policy Change by sofiaie


									      Labelling GM Food:
from Industrial to Risk Society?

       Peter Parbery, doctoral candidate
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
           The University of Melbourne
Document analysis & forty interviews
in Australia and Europe
                                                  Policy Makers

                                                  Regulatory Authorities
 Agricultural Inputs
                                                  Science Organisations

                            Food Manufacturing

                                          Food Retail
    Environmental NGOs
    Consumer NGOs

                               * Conventional and Organic Agriculture
A Policy Change

Comprehensive labelling adopted:

 Britain & Europe: September 1998
 Australia and New Zealand: December 2000
Two Labelling Regimes

 'SE' Labelling             Comprehensive Labelling
 Substantial Equivalence

 labelled?                    labelled?
  high oleic-acid canola      high oleic-acid canola
 X herbicide-tolerant soya     herbicide-tolerant soya

 PRODUCT – based            (semi) PROCESS – based
'I believe that those confronting the issue of GM
    labelling must address the world-wide problem of
    diminishing public trust in food safety, in food
    manufacturing and - unfortunately - food regulators.
    That confidence will only be restored if independent
    scientists can demonstrate that food is safe to eat,
    and manufacturers and regulators are as open and
    inclusive in their approach to consumers as they can
    possibly be'.

                          ANZFA CEO Ian Lindenmayer
                                           Nov 1999
'society’s relationship with science is in a critical
   phase;.. mounting problems of mistrust and
   alienation;.. a crisis of trust'
                                    House of Lords (1999)
                 Third Report on Science and Technology
'Consumer confidence in food standards has been secured
  in the past on the basis of scientific review, interpreted
  and then managed through regulation by government
  authorities. ANZFA recognises that the community today
  is much more concerned about food standards. Public
  confidence must be based on comprehensive and
  accurate information, transparent decision making, as
  well as opportunities to access and interpret scientific
  information, expert advice and matters raised by special
  interest groups and individuals.‘

                                            ANZFA 2001
                           'ANZFA Community Involvement
                                     Policy and Protocol'
'The GM labelling decision is really important because it
   actually changed the policy paradigm from just health
   & safety.. to something that was a little bit broader.
   That’s now set a precedent and a paradigm if you
   like, for process-based labelling'.

             interview; Dr Marion Healy, Chief Scientist
        Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA)
Industrial Society              Risk Society

            Scientific Control: Is it possible?

               Technology = Progress?

             Political Control: Who has it?

       Concern over distributions of Wealth or Risk?
Labelling as Control

'We reject the use of the term substantial equivalence in
  relation to GMO foods because of its narrow scientific
  application. Comprehensive labelling is the only way
  to ensure that health, religious, moral and ethical
  food choices are placed solely in the hands of each
  individual consumer'.
                                 Lay Panel Report (1999)
                   1st Australian Consensus Conference
                 on Gene Technology in the Food Chain
'Labelling is really crucial'…'That's what freedom and
   democracy is all about'

                  Australian research by YCHW (1999)
                Public Attitudes Towards Biotechnology
Control on Two Levels

 Narrowly personal        (eg health effects)
 Broadly societal         (eg environmental effects)

 'labelling was felt to be important to allow consumers to
    boycott the products in order to "send a message" to
    manufacturers about a whole range of concerns,
    other than health risks associated with GMOs.'
                                  Marris, Wynne et al. 2001
      Public Perceptions of Agricultural Biotechnologies in
'But the process of production is the critical thing, not
  the end product. And that’s the key thing:
  conceptually that’s the nub of the debate about

                          interview; Bob Phelps, Director
                        GeneEthics Network (Melbourne)
‘The central issue for us is that consumers have a right to
   know the market. And this is not necessarily just the final
   food.. they care about the process. Increasingly, that
   issue is of importance to consumers. Organic foods is
   much the same thing. You see people asking more and
   more questions about how companies are using third
   world labor; they’re interested in the nature of the
   process and whether it was ethical, whether it was
   reasonable. That’s a bit of a shift to the consumer, which
   we label with the few short words the consumer’s right to
   know. So that was our central issue' [her emphasis]

                             interview; Louise Sylvan, CEO
                  Australian Consumers' Association (ACA)
The View from Industry

'I think you need to go back and think about what the
    purpose of the label is, and who owns it. Other [non
    food-safety] issues are very important, but anybody
    who proposes that labelling is the way to address
    them is naïve and doesn’t realize that labelling is only
    one in an enormous number of tools that
    governments have at their disposal'
                                        interview (Sydney)
            Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC)
'Certainly regarding the environment, we would not
  accept that decisions be made by consumers, by
  green organisations etceteras. We have regulators in
  change of doing so, and doing so on a scientific
                 interview (Brussels), Syngenta (biotech)
Control and Determinism

'most focus group respondents felt that biotechnology is
  changing at such a rapid pace that developments
  cannot possibly be anticipated or legislated against.
  In addition, it was generally felt that Australian society
  and government are powerless compared to the
  international financial and political power of the large
  multinational companies driving biotechnological

                   Australian research by YCHW (2001)
                 Public Attitudes Towards Biotechnology
      Labelling GM Food:
from Industrial to Risk Society?

       Peter Parbery, doctoral candidate
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
           The University of Melbourne
'Price was one of the main factors determining choice
   and there was a resignation about the 'inevitability' of
   their own actions: 'The price will force you to buy that
   sort of thing'… Even in role-playing as Government,
   food producers or retailers, people never felt they
   could reject the technology; the only option was to
   limit, control and try to ensure safety as best they

              Grove-White et al (1997), Uncertain World
'What would happen if Australia said 'no' to allowing
  gene technology?'

                                   Panel Report (1999)
                  1st Australian Consensus Conference
                 on Gene Technology in the Food Chain

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