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Subway shambles shows why moratorium must stay

Subway shambles shows why moratorium must stay

New Zealand is about to commit export-suicide, Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons warned today, in the wake of the latest GE scandal to rock our food industry.

Up to 120 Subway sandwich stores around Tokyo have closed their doors after a GE enzyme was discovered in dough imported from the New Zealand bakers, Yarrows. It is the second New Zealand GE export scandal to hit Japan in the last four months.

"Our image with Japanese consumers as a supplier of fresh, clean, safe food is plummeting," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Concerned New Zealanders have been telling the Government for years that our reputation - and our most lucrative export markets - cannot survive official indifference to the presence of GE ingredients in our food.

"I don't blame Yarrows for this mess: I blame the lack of any proper law requiring labelling and traceability of food imports to New Zealand. They have simply been caught by a lack of New Zealand rules to protect them and their markets.

"To argue that this not a GE release and therefore has nothing to do with lifting the moratorium misses the point. This episode has everything to do with our lax regulatory systems. Lifting the moratorium will only increase the likelihood of this sort of thing happening more often.

"It is extremely disturbing that the Government is taking so long to produce information to reassure New Zealand consumers, let alone our foreign markets. For starters: what is the name of this enzyme? Is the dough sent to Japan also sold here? Is it approved for sale in New Zealand?

"And if it is approved for sale here but not in Japan, what is it that the Japanese know about it that we don't? What we do know is that food processing additives like enzymes don't have to be labelled, so New Zealanders don't know whether they are eating them or not

"The regulatory regime is a shambles yet in at midnight on Wednesday this Government will press ahead and lift the moratorium," said Ms Fitzsimons. "If this is the way the Government handles routine food ingredients now, why should we believe they are ready to handle GE release?

"I can only repeat the words of Yarrows' owner, himself a GE sceptic before this disaster hit his business: 'In three days a very significant thing is going to happen in New Zealand. We don't know enough about it.'"

ENDS

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