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Consumers show support for food labelling campaign

27 June 2006

Consumers show support for food labelling campaign

Public support for the Green Party's Consumer Right to Know (Food Information) Bill, which is to be debated on Wednesday afternoon, is growing with 900 e-cards and 3100 postcards being sent to MPs.

The Bill has the support of 22 organisations ranging from Parents Centre, to the SPCA and Greenpeace, and there has even been a protest in support of the bill staged in Thames, MP Sue Kedgley says.

"Consumers are making it clear they want better labelling telling them where their food comes from and whether it contains GE. They also want to know whether eggs come from cruel battery cages or not.

"It is apparent consumers believe it's a fundamental right to know what is in the food we eat, and I share that view. It is unacceptable that under our existing labelling provisions, consumers can't tell where much of their food comes from, or whether it contains GE ingredients.

"Surely, in a world awash with BSE and Avian Influenza, consumers have a right to know where their meat comes from. For example, we imported 27,000 tonnes of pork last year but there's no way consumers can work out where all this meat has ended up because the food labelling does not disclose that.

"And surely consumers have a right to know whether a tomato has been imported from Australia and therefore dipped in a highly toxic insecticide called Dimethoate, or whether our garlic has travelled 10,000 miles from China and may contain a virus which poses a biosecurity risk," Ms Kedgley says.

"If the government doesn't even require GE-derived ingredients in our food to undergo safety testing, it should at least require producers to declare whether there are GE ingredients in their food.

"Proper GE labelling would also give credit to the majority of business that have already eliminated GE-derived ingredients from their products, and encourage the remaining businesses to do the same.

"Independent surveys show that 84 percent of consumers want GE ingredients to be declared on a label, 81 percent to be told whether a product is imported or not and 71 percent want egg cartons to declare whether or not hens have been kept in battery cages."

The bill would bring New Zealand into line with countries such as Europe which already have the labelling provisions in the bill, it would not impose onerous compliance costs on the food industry, Ms Kedgley says.


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