SITUATION IN HONG KONG
Production of GM Crops in Hong Kong
Hong Kong does not have any commercial production of GM crops or livestock to date. However, biotechnological research studies are being conducted in local universities. Local scientists have not yet conducted any field trials.
Availability of GM foods and Existing Control on GM foods in Hong Kong
Some food products on shelves are known to contain genetically modified food ingredients. These materials are proven to be safe for human consumption by the trade and regulating agencies of their places of origin before they are available in the market.
Under Part V of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, Chapter 132, food intended for sale in Hong Kong must be fit for human consumption. The Ordinance applies to all foods including genetically modified ones.
Development on Regulation of GM Food in Hong Kong
The Government has conducted a public consultation on labelling of GM food in early 2001. As there was concern about the possible price rise in food after the introduction of a mandatory GM food labelling system, the Government commissioned a consultancy firm in April 2002 to conduct a regulatory impact assessment on introducing a labelling scheme for GM food.
Regulatory Impact Assessment on Labelling of Genetically Modified(GM) Food Executive Summary
The study was completed in early 2003. The assessment indicated that there would be no increases in costs to the food trade under a voluntary labelling scheme. However, there would be some cost increases to the trade, in particular the small and medium enterprises, if a mandatory scheme is to be implemented. The study also identified a number of barriers to the implementation of a mandatory labelling system.
According to the statements issued by the World Health Organization, GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. However, the situation may change in the future. As a proactive measure to address the safety of future GM foods, the Government considers that it would be appropriate to introduce a mandatory pre-market safety assessment to ensure the safety of GM food. The purpose is to ensure that only GM food that has passed the safety assessment can be sold in Hong Kong. On the other hand, to enhance consumers’ knowledge and right to make an informed choice on GM food, a set of guidelines for voluntary labelling has been issued for trade reference.