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New Zealand joins Washington's GE crusade


New Zealand joins Washington's GE crusade

The Green Party is demanding an explanation why the Government has joined in the US action to force the European Union to accept genetically modified food and crops.

New Zealand and Australia have joined Washington as "third parties" in the complaint to the World Trade Organisation, which would impose sanctions on Europe if it failed to lift its GE ban.

"This Government has ignored the wishes of most New Zealanders in planning to lift the GE moratorium in October, and is now trying to force the people of Europe to eat food and grow crops they have overwhelmingly rejected," Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"Unlike New Zealand, the debate in Europe over the safety of GE organisms got underway well before it could be hijacked by the vested interests of trans-national biotech companies, so that Europeans have had the luxury of being able to make their assessment in full knowledge of the scientific risks posed by GE.

"The choice of European consumers is to reject GE food and crops, and all countries should respect that decision. It is supported by many scientists and medical professionals who point out that GE crops are inherently unpredictable and GE foods have never been tested for safety.

"This new, aggressive move from the US to manipulate WTO regulations does not bode well for New Zealanders efforts to get comprehensive labelling introduced for GE foods, most of which come from America.

"It also undermines the excellent work this Government had done in building relationships with Europe.

"In many ways, New Zealand and Europe are natural allies, linked by mutual interest in the rule of international law, a multilateral approach to foreign affairs, commitment to the Kyoto protocol and dedication to higher environmental standards.

"It is ironic that the Prime Minister lectured the European Policy Centre just a few weeks ago on the benefits of 'fair' trade," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Ironic because there's nothing 'fair' in trying to use the dogma of international trade regulations to force GE food down the throats of people who don't want it."

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