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Genetic Engineering

What foods are they in?

GMOs are present in a wide range of foods currently on the market, particularly foods containing soybeans or corn originating from the USA, Brazil or Argentina.

Foods containing GMOs

Food products containing corn include: breakfast cereals, fresh corn, frozen corn, tinned corn, popcorn, burritos, nachos, corn chips, corn breads, cornflour, polenta, taco shells, tortillas, baby foods, baking powder, custards, gravies, sauces, soups, corn syrup, corn oil, biscuits, confectionery, frozen desserts and soft drinks.

Food products containing soy include: soy milk, soy sauces, tofu, tempeh, miso, confectionery, soy pastes, lecithin, soy butters, soy coffees, breads, instant milk, flours, snacks, coffee whiteners, frozen desserts, infant formulas, meat products and anything containing soy oil. Soy is also a major ingredient in animal feed so will be concentrated in animal protein.

In Australia foods exempt from labelling include highly refined proteins, starches, sugars and oils, additives like misaprin, and enzymes for making cheese. Australian genetically modified cottonseed oil is an ingredient in many vegetable oils.

The following products contain ingredients from genetically modified crops:

Mars Bars, Maltesers and M&Ms, Heinz Chicken Dinner, Heinz Banana Custard, Homai Cocktail Spring Rolls, Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade, Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Snickers, Dove Caramel, Sanitarium Country Spiced Soy Burger, Sanitarium Soy Healthy Spiced Soy Fillets and some Nestlé frozen products.

The following companies will not or cannot say if their products contain GMOs:

Arnotts, Birds Eye, Buttercup, Continental, Ferrero (Nutella), Flora, John West, Kraft (Vegemite), Meadow Lea, Pampas, Uncle Tobys, Watties, Westons and White Wings,

In Australia food companies are not compelled to audit all of their ingredients. They just do not know if their products are GM-free and in particular they cannot guarantee the status of lesser ingredients. The current laws to protect the consumer are inadequate. There are too many foods which are exempt from the labelling system. GM foods that are present in quantities below a certain threshold are exempt. A category has been created which neither confirms the existence of GMOs in foods nor denies them. The label which simply states 'may contain GMOs' tells you nothing. Consumers want certainty.

The industry's reluctance to admit that their products contain GMOs is odd considering the fact that genetically modified crops have been exported from the US since 1996. They argue that it is difficult and time-consuming to determine whether all the ingredients are free of GMOs.

Most food manufacturers say they believe GMOs are safe. But fearing a consumer backlash many are terminating contracts with suppliers of GM ingredients and switching to non-GM sources.

In 2003 all the major UK supermarket companies - ASDA, Safeway, Tesco, the Coop and Sainsburys, declared themselves GM-free or intent to be GM-free. They joined a consortium of European retailers including Carrefour of France, Migros of Switzerland, Delhaize of Belgium, Superquinn of Ireland and Effelung of Italy, which intends to guarantee supplies of GM-free foods.

Greenpeace UK has published a shoppers’ guide to GM foods which can be found on their website

For Australian consumers, Greenpeace Australia has produced a True Food Guide which can be found at

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