Hong Kong faces decision over regulating GM food

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The Hong Kong Government (HKG) currently does not have a specific biotechnology regulations policy, but it recently announced its intention to regulation genetically modified food by introducing a mandatory pre-market safety assessment scheme (PMSAS) in Hong Kong.

Under the proposed framework, a GM food developer would need to apply to the Hong Kong government if any food products containing its GM ingredients are to be sold in Hong Kong. However, HKG stated that it does not plan to require mandatory labeling of GM products.

Like other regions, Hong Kong is facing increasing pressure to regulate and label GM food. HKG has responded by introducing voluntary labeling of GM products, which was released in 2006. The guidelines are advisory in nature and do not have any legal effect.

HKG says it does not see the need to introduce mandatory labeling for GM food because of the lack of international consensus on the issue.

According to HKG’s proposed regulatory framework, a GM food developer should apply to the Hong Kong government if any food products containing its GM ingredients are to be sold in Hong Kong. The GM food developer is required to submit an application and provide supporting documentation to the Center for Food Safety for evaluation in the context of Codex principles and guidelines. GM food must pass the safety assessment before it may be sold in Hong Kong.

According to HKG’s estimation, there are about 70 types of GM plants that have been commercialized in the international market for food use.

After the implementation of PMSAS, the CFS will draw up a list of approved GM food and upload the list on its homepage for public reference. Hong Kong food manufacturers and importers will be responsible to ensure that their products contain only approved GM food.

PMSAS is expected to be launched in the second half of 2013.

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