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NZ Dairy Foods Butter Up Consumers With Stand

NZ Dairy Foods Butter Up Consumers With GE-Free Stand

14 June 2001

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today that NZ Dairy Foods' commitment to go GE-Free raised the stakes in the dairy industry.

"I congratulate NZ Dairy Foods (whose brands include Anchor and Fresh 'n' Fruity) for listening to customers who don't want to eat or drink genetically engineered dairy products," said Ms Fitzsimons. "They have set the benchmark for the dairy industry here, and the Dairy Board in particular should reassess its decision to back genetic engineering."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Dairy Board's investment of $150 million into genetic engineering research - both cows and pasture - was a costly blind alley.

"The Dairy Board markets milk - a drink which exemplifies the concepts of natural, wholesome and life-giving. We should concentrate on enhancing that image by increasing our organic research and production, instead of pouring money into genetic engineering research which works against that fresh, natural brand.

"There is plenty of evidence to show that very few, if any, consumers want to buy genetically engineered butter or yoghurt, let alone milk. The Dairy Board should listen to its overseas export markets instead of trying to headbutt them into submission."

Ms Fitzsimons said as a member of Parliament she was also concerned that taxpayers money was providing ongoing funding for AgResearch to experiment with genetically engineered cows, with the aim of creating 'animals with improved milk composition'.

In the 1998/99 research description of projects funded by FoRST, the aim of one AgResearch project was described as 'to enhance the protein content and nutritive value of milk' and the aim of another was to 'decrease the allergenic properties of bovine milk'.

"Twenty-four genetically engineered calves with a casein construct were born at AgResearch earlier this year as part of these two experiments, which were approved by the Environmental Risk Management Authority earlier than the more notorious one involving human genes in cows. These projects may now be a dead-end, given the wise marketing decision of NZ Dairy Foods.

"The sooner other dairy marketers and researchers follow NZ Dairy Foods and start listening to what people really want, the better for this country," she said.


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