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PM must tell Bush GE labelling non negotiable

PM must tell Bush GE labelling non negotiable

The Greens are challenging the Prime Minister to tell US President George Bush that New Zealand's GE labelling regime is non negotiable and will not be watered down for any possible free trade deal.

The Prime Minister leaves for the United States tomorrow and Green MP Sue Kedgley said Helen Clark must reassure New Zealanders that the right to know what is in the food we eat will not be traded away.

"The United States has already told Australia that a free trade deal is conditional upon Australia watering down or removing labelling for genetically engineered foods, among other things.

"New Zealanders need to know that our fledgling and already weak GE labelling regime is in very real danger of being sacrificed to the great free trade god," said Ms Kedgley.

New Zealand shares its GE labelling regime with Australia through the ANZFA body and Ms Kedgley said if Australia rolled over on the joint labelling scheme for a free trade deal New Zealand would have no option but to withdraw from ANZFA and establish its own independent labelling regime.

"This is a very real possibility," she said. "The right for people to know what they are eating is fundamental and the Government must not trade it away."

Ms Kedgley said she firmly believed the desire to sign a free trade deal with the US was the main reason why the Government was so determined to lift the moratorium on the release of genetically engineered organisms next year.

"The United States will use a free trade deal to pressure New Zealand to allow GE crops into our environment and to abandon our already weak GE labelling regime.

"The Prime Minister must tell New Zealand now if she is prepared to sign away GE labelling to try and secure this deal," she said.

"We challenge the Prime Minister to rule this out now and to tell the United States tomorrow that our food is as off limits as our nuclear free status. If Helen Clark will not do this then we deserve to be told why not."

Letter from Robert Zoellick to Australian Parliament available on request

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