Solons wants labeling of food, meat and poultry products containing GM material

  Last Updated: Thursday 9th of December 2010 11:50:00 PM +0800HKT

Lawmakers from Mindanao have moved to protect the interests of consumers from serious health risks by filing a measure seeking to require the labeling of food, meat and poultry products that contain genetically engineered material.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and his brother Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Abante Mindanao, Inc.) have filed House Bill 1402 which aims 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 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 species 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," Rodriguez explained.

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 his 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.

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.

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 P100,000.00 fine and two years imprisonment.

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