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Two-Faced Govt Denies Food Freedom For Kiwis

6 June, 2004

Two-faced Govt denies food freedom for Kiwis

Green MP Sue Kedgley today revealed that the Government was actively campaigning behind the scenes to oppose any efforts to allow mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) on imported food - while purportedly 'asking' for public feedback on labelling before it finalised its position.

Ms Kedgley, the Green spokesperson for Food Safety, said that documents prove that the Government, which claims to be open and democratic, is opposing every New Zealander's democratic right to know where our food comes from.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recently released a document calling for submissions from New Zealanders and Australians as to whether or not they wanted mandatory Country of Origin Labelling of food. Submissions close on July 1.

"At the same time as FSANZ is calling for public submissions, our Government is sabotaging the consultation process by actively opposing CoOL, including in international forums such as a recent meeting of Codex, the international food standard setting body," said Ms Kedgley.

"The New Zealand delegate to Codex said our position internationally and domestically is to 'oppose it being mandated on imported products wherever we can.' New Zealand has vehemently opposed it within FSANZ and has even claimed in official reports that there was do demand for CoOL in New Zealand.

"Why are we not allowed something as basic and democratic as the right to know where our food comes from?" Ms Kedgley asked. "Why should we not be allowed to know whether the garlic we buy in our supermarket comes from China and has been fumigated with Methyl Bromide or New Zealand?

"Why should we not be able to work out whether the tomatoes on sale in supermarkets comes from Australia, and have therefore been soaked in a toxic insecticide, or from New Zealand?

"It is frankly bizarre, and the Government should not be allowed to deny our right to know where food comes from. Codex papers prove that the Government does not have the interests of New Zealand consumers at heart when it comes to food, rather they see the consumers' right-to-know as a threat to trade," she said.

Ms Kedgley is launching a campaign for the mandatory Country of Origin labelling of all food as part of her Join the Food Revolution Campaign at the Green Party conference tomorrow (Monday, June 7). The campaign will consist of E-cards and postcards and other actions to encourage New Zealanders to demand Country of Origin Labelling.

Copies of the documents can be obtained on request

ENDS

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