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Greens and NGOs distort NZ approach

Greens and NGOs distort NZ approach

The Green Party and NGO observers continue to distort New Zealand's approach at the current Montreal conference on the Cartagena Protocol, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

"The government is absolutely committed to consumers knowing what is in their food through effective labelling and nothing we are doing in Montreal runs against this commitment," Marian Hobbs said. "It is not correct to claim we are undermining the biosafety regime.

"At the meeting, New Zealand is promoting the balanced and effective implementation of the Protocol, to ensure that both exporting and importing country perspectives are taken into account."

Marian Hobbs said Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons' problem is that she is getting her information from NGOs who have strong anti-GM & anti-trade agendas.

"They are trying to use the Protocol to set rules that become barriers to trade," Marian Hobbs added. "This fits nicely with Jeanette's own anti-GM and anti-trade agendas. But this is not a legitimate use of the Protocol.

"The New Zealand delegation is working in our interests as an exporter. We don't export any GM products, and the government has no position on whether we should or shouldn't in the future. That should be determined by the normal rules of the market and consumer demand - not by arbitrary trade restrictions set through the Cartagena Protocol.

"We joined the Protocol in order to be able to influence the biosafety negotiations from within as a full member, taking account of our economic interests as an agricultural exporter.

"Labelling requirements are one important issue being discussed at this meeting. The delegation is seeking to ensure that any regime that is adopted is realistic and does not impose an unreasonable burden for agricultural commodity exporters.

"Some of the labelling proposals being discussed at Montreal involve a level of detail which could mean that non-Living Modified Organism agricultural products, including organics, would need to be labelled as 'may contain LMOs'. This would be a perverse outcome, which New Zealand would not support."


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