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Food ministers betray consumers

Food ministers betray consumers

Green MP, Sue Kedgley says New Zealand consumers have every right to feel betrayed and deceived by the latest trans-Tasman decision on GE food labelling.

A decision released late on Friday by the Australia-New Zealand Food Standards Council rejected aligning our key labelling laws with those of the EU, which would have meant the introduction of comprehensive GE food labelling. The decision was made after a major review of consumer attitudes and a comparison of our GE labelling laws with those of overseas jurisdictions.

"The decision shows just how captured by industry and dismissive of public opinion the council has become," said Ms Kedgley, the Green spokesperson on Safe Food. "It is a slap in the face for the 80 per cent of submitters who called for Australia and New Zealand to align with the new EU regime which requires all GE ingredients to be labelled.

"The council had the arrogance to defend its decision to ignore overwhelming consumer demand for proper GE labelling by arguing 'it is difficult to determine the strength of the link between consumer demand and the actual use of GM food labelling in purchasing behaviour'. Of course it is, when you consider that since there are no GE labels on our food it's impossible to use them to make a choice about buying groceries.

Ms Kedgley said the council's decision would further undermine consumers' confidence in food regulatory authorities. "Our GE labelling regime is misleading and deceptive in that it exempts hundreds of GE ingredients from being declared on a label, and so denies consumers the right to avoid eating GE food if they wish.

Ms Kedgley noted that there are a total of 24 members on the Australia-New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, but only one member - Health Minister, Annette King - from New Zealand.

"This is yet another example of how New Zealand consumers are being held hostage to an Australian and industry-dominated body," said Ms Kedgley. "Our government presents itself as being open and democratic yet refuses to allow New Zealand consumers the democratic right to know what GE ingredients go into the food we eat."

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