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Green conference asks Labour to listen

Green conference asks Labour to listen

The Green Party has wound up its 2003 conference with a call for the Labour Government to start listening again.

Green Co-leaders Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald warned that time is running out for Labour to hear what the people of New Zealand want for their future and their role in the world. "Consumers must have the choice to eat GE-free produce," said Ms Fitzsimons, "and farmers must be allowed to grow GE-free crops.

"The Government has the responsibility to protect the rights of New Zealanders to grow and eat identifiable GE-free food. These rights will not be safeguarded when the moratorium is lifted in October. There is no plan to protect food from contamination at the growing stage, and no plan for a labelling system that will let us know what we're eating," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"This failure is contrary to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. New Zealanders are getting angrier and angrier as they realise that the 'with caution' recommendations of the Commission are being ignored in favour of the 'proceed' recommendations."

Ms Fitzsimons accused the Government of effectively forcing GE food down New Zealanders' throats in the same way that the United States and a group of allied countries, including New Zealand, are trying to force GE food down the throats of Europeans.

Co-Leader Rod Donald agreed that New Zealand should follow the example of Egypt and withdraw from the US World Trade Organisation case to make Europe accept GE food and crops. "Our sovereignty is too high a price to pay for a free trade deal with the US," Mr Donald said. "This Government should back off buying into globalisation, and concentrate on making New Zealand stronger and self-reliant.

"Let's unhitch ourselves from America's falling star, invest super funds in local development and stop encouraging mega-stores like the one Helen Clark is opening in Christchurch on Wednesday. They put Kiwi workers out of jobs and Kiwi retailers and manufacturers out of business."

The Green Co-leaders ended the conference with a call for party members to get out on the streets and take their commonsense messages directly to the people. About 150 delegates and members attended the conference at Lake Karapiro, Waikato. The Co-leaders were re-elected unopposed and Paul de Spa was elected to join Catherine Delahunty as Co-convenor.

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