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NZ May Have To Go It Alone On GE Labelling

New Zealand May Have To Go It Alone On GE Labelling

The Green Party today said New Zealand may have to opt out of the ANZFA Treaty and adopt an independent labelling system for all genetically engineered food.

The Australian Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry Minister today said the Australian Government would not support labelling if it put Australian businesses at a competitive disadvantage through high compliance costs.

The Minister suggested it would be much cheaper for businesses if only foods containing more than a threshold level of genetically engineered ingredients were required to be labelled.

Green Party health spokesperson Sue Kedgley said anything less than full labelling of all foods containing any genetically engineered ingredients would be unacceptable to New Zealand consumers and the Green Party.

"New Zealand and Australia agreed last year to adopt mandatory labelling and if Australia are going to reneg on that commitment then New Zealand would have no alternative then to develop its own labelling system," she said.

Ms Kedgley said she was astonished that there were still rearguard efforts to undermine labelling of genetically engineered foods. "Never before has the simple listing of food ingredients on a label created such resistance.

"New Zealand consumers have an absolute right to know what is in the food we eat. We have been promised labelling for more than two years now and we should not be denied this sovereign right because of intransigent Ministers across the Tasman.," she said.

"If need be New Zealand may have to consider opting out of the ANZFA Treaty and developing our own independent labelling system to protect the rights of New Zealand consumers," she said.

"This move has huge implications for the consumer rights of all New Zealanders as around 60 per cent of our food comes from Australia. The New Zealand consumer deserves nothing less than full information about the food they eat."

Ms Kedgley said she understood compliance costs would not be a major issue and said she had received informal reports that a full compliance regime would cost in the area of around $300 million for the whole of Australasia.

Ends Sue Kedgley MP 04 470 6728, 025 270 9088, Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 021 110 1133

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