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Greens Want Independent Food Safety Agency

Greens Want Independent Food Safety Agency

30 January 2002

The Greens will put forward amendments to ensure that the new food safety agency is genuinely independent when legislation establishing it is tabled in Parliament, Safe Food spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

The Prime Minister announced today that Annette King has been appointed Minister-designate overseeing the establishment of the new Food Safety Authority, which will be a semi-autonomous agency within the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

"While the Green party welcomes the Government's decision to establish a food safety agency, it is extremely concerned that the agency will not be set up as a genuinely autonomous and independent agency, as the Government promised before the election," she said.

"Making it a semi-autonomous agency within MAF means there will be inevitable potential for conflict of interest with MAF's industry advocacy role, and a tendency for the interests of producers and sectoral interests to be given priority over public health and consumer concerns.

"This is a clear and simple lesson from the BSE crisis in England," she said.

Ms Kedgley said that England, Ireland and the European Union have all recently set up food safety agencies that are totally independent and autonomous.

"Unless New Zealand's food safety agency is genuinely independent, consumers will not have confidence that it will uphold the highest standards of food safety and consumer protection," she said.

"To be effective, the agency must be focussed on consumer protection and on protecting public health from any risks which may arise from food."


ENDS

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