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Abstract

Growth in the demand for organic foods has been phenomenal in the past decade both on Australia and overseas because organic production is seen to be beneficial to both human health and the environment. In general, organic products commend a price premium over conventional products. Since organic attributes cannot be verified easily and there is no control over the use of the word "organic" in the Australian market, the organic label has been subject to abuse. Over ten years, the Australian organic industry has called for a domestic regulation, claiming that any incidence of consumer deception and product misrepresentation can result in the loss of consumer confidence and sales, and more importantly, hinder future industry growth. However, the Government has rejected the calls. On the other hand, despite its recent history, the labelling of GM foods has become mandatory since 2001. This paper examines the arguments for and against the mandatory labelling of organic foods in Australia, compares the political and marketing environments in which organic and GMO foods operate, and assesses the appropriateness of the differing regulatory responses.

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