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Muslim council approves GM foods

The Jakarta Post
July 8, 2003

JAKARTA - Indonesia's leading authority on Islamic affairs has given the go-ahead for the consumption of imported genetically modified organism (GMO) foods, one of its members said yesterday.

'Despite there being no official ruling on GMO-based food products, as long as it comes from plantations, such as soya bean or corn, there are no problems,' said Professor Aisyah Girindra, head of medicine and food supervision at the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI).

MUI is the highest Indonesian Muslim body authorised to release religious rulings or labels of halal on processed food products distributed in the country.

'Unofficially, we have discussed the GMO issue but, until now, there was no official fatwa issued on the matter,' Prof Aisyah told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Without a fatwa, Indonesian Muslims remain free to consume GMO products, he added.

In many countries, GMO imports are restricted due to fears of unknown side effects from consuming food products whose natural genetic make-up has been altered.

Nearly 88 per cent of Indonesia's 215 million people are Muslims, making it the world's most populous Islamic nation.

While the country's religious leaders appear unconcerned about the GMO issue, the Indonesian Consumers Institute (YLKI) has urged the government to issue regulations requiring all imported processed foods, including those derived from GMO products, to undergo health examinations before entering the domestic market.

'Our aim is just to make sure that those imported food products are safe for consumers,' said YLKI activist Iliani.

Muslim council gives green light to GM food

By Katie Mantell
16 July 2003

Indonesia's leading authority on Islam has given the go-ahead for Muslims to eat genetically modified (GM) crops.

The Straits Times reports that Aisyah Girindra, head of medicine and food supervision at the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) has said that "as long as it comes from [plants], such as soya bean or corn, there are no problems" with the consumption of GM food.

MUI's announcement does not constitute an official edict, or 'fatwa'. But it does indicate that, in the absence of a fatwa, Muslim consumers can go ahead and eat GM foods. Almost 90 per cent of Indonesia's 215 million inhabitants are Muslims.