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Sue Kedgley Says GE Delayed Yet Again

30 April 2000

Yet more delay over GE labelling

Government promises to label genetically engineered food are becoming farcical, according to Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

"Never before has the simple listing of food ingredients created so much resistance," she said today.

"In February Health Minister Annette King said in answer to a parliamentary question from me about labelling that she expected details to be `finalised and signed off in May this year' at a meeting of Australia and New Zealand health ministers.

"Now the ministers have once again put off making their decision for a few more months," Ms Kedgley said. "It means no GE labels are likely on New Zealand supermarket shelves until halfway through next year at the earliest.

"Labour promised in its pre-election policy `Safe Food and a Healthy Environment' that it would `establish a practical labelling system for genetically modified foods which provides customers with the information they want'. I would like the Government to say exactly when this will happen, as the previous government said it was committed to bringing in GE labels this year." Ms Kedgley said 19 known GE ingredients were contained in products on New Zealand supermarket shelves right now, yet they had never been properly tested to see if they were safe enough to eat.

"This is a health and safety issue as well as one of consumer choice. People with allergies in particular need to have the GE information."

Labelling was first promised back in December 17, 1998, when ministers of Australian states outvoted New Zealand's associate health minister Tuariki Delamere, and pledged trans-Tasman labelling of GE food. At the time Mr Delamere told New Zealand consumers he would follow the Australasian labelling agreement, Ms Kedgley said.

"Since then we have had a series of delaying tactics. The Government must stop acting for those with vested interests in the food industry and start acting for consumers," she said.

Sue Kedgley 3949123 (home), 025 243 4239 Paul Bensemann, Press Secretary 021 214 2665


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