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NZ must follow EU on GE labelling

3 July, 2003

NZ must follow EU on GE labelling

Green MP Sue Kedgley today called on the Government to follow the example set by the European Union and introduce new and comprehensive labelling laws for GE food and animal stockfeed.

The EU voted overnight to extend mandatory labelling of all food products made from GE technology, not just those that retain residues of the GE protein or DNA. The new labelling laws will require labelling of all GE-derived stockfoods.

"This will enable consumers can determine whether or not their food has been produced using gene technology," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Party Food Safety spokesperson.

Ms Kedgley said the Green Parties of both New Zealand and Australia had developed private members bills calling on their respective governments to introduce EU-type labelling laws for all foods. This would be done through the trans-Tasman food standards setting body, Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

"Food Safety Minister Annette King justifies our present weak, GE labelling regime by arguing that New Zealand needs to be aligned with EU standards for GE food.

"Now that the EU has strengthened its provisions so that they apply to all GE ingredients and animal stockfeed in all food, we need to bring our rules into line with the new EU laws," Ms Kedgley said.

The EU also lowered its thresholds for accidental contamination with GM material. These are now 0.9% of any product ingredient that is approved for use in foods by the EU, and zero for any contamination by non-approved GM material. Ms Kedgley said the present GE labelling laws were a joke. "Our labelling laws are misleading and deceptive as most consumers assume that unlabelled food does not contain any material derived from GE technology, when in fact thousands of products do contain GE ingredients because of the loopholes in the rules.

"The Europeans have listened to their consumers, who have repeatedly told them that they don't want to eat GE food. It's time for the New Zealand Government to listen to the voices of consumers who have said the same thing.

"Consumers have the right to a choice, and that choice can only be exercised by an adequate labelling system," said Ms Kedgley.


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