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Free Trade Deal Threatens GE Labelling

The Green Party released evidence today that the United States would aim to get rid of labelling of genetically engineered food as part of any new free trade deal.

During Question Time today, Jeanette Fitzsimons tabled proposed US trade legislation which President Bush wants to pass in the Senate by next Monday.

The bill will give the Bush administration the authority it needs to negotiate new trade deals. It states the key objective for agriculture negotiations will include removing trade restrictions 'such as labelling, that affect new technologies, including biotechnology'.

"Phil Goff, speaking on behalf of the Prime Minster, made it clear in Parliament today that the Government is fully aware of the provisions of the legislation, but is planning to push ahead with a free trade deal anyway. That means our labelling regime is doomed," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"There would be no opportunity to bring our weak labelling regime into line with Europe, and we might have to abandon it altogether, if we were to sign up to a trade deal with the US," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"If the price of a free trade deal with the US is keeping consumers ignorant about which foods contain GE, and removing any obstacles to the farming of genetically engineered plants and animals, then New Zealand should say, thanks, but no thanks."

Ms Fitzsimons said the US legislation added weight to US Trade Secretary Robert Zoellick's report released last week which identified New Zealand's two-year moratorium on the release of genetically engineered crops and animals, and GE labelling, as barriers to trade.


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