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Food imports from China? Who knows.

18 September 2008

Food imports from China? Who knows.

With more than 6000 Chinese babies suffering kidney damage from contaminated baby milk formula, our own Government must drop its opposition to mandatory Country of Origin labelling of food before a similar tragedy occurs here, the Green Party says.

The New Zealand Government exempted itself from having to implement Country of Origin Labelling on the absurd and increasingly dangerous basis that labelling is not a food safety issue, and would undermine our free trade liberalisation agenda.

"Their opposition to our basic right - to know where our food comes from - is putting New Zealanders at risk," Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"If even one child - let alone 6000 children - falls sick here through contaminated milk imports, the Government will be held morally responsible, through their stubborn opposition to consumers being able to make informed choices about what they eat.

"The Labour Government's opposition to Country of Origin Labelling has nothing to do with looking after New Zealanders, and everything to do with protecting international big business from an informed consumer body," Ms Kedgley says.

"Our own Food Safety Authority is checking Chinese milk imports right now. If it is shown that they contain the same contaminant, our Government will be morally culpable.

"New Zealand has experienced a number of food safety scares in the last few years, from antifreeze in imported toothpaste, illegal GE rice entering our food chain and now we are all crossing our fingers hoping there is no melamine in imported milk products.

"Most New Zealanders would be shocked to learn New Zealand imports milk products at all. It is deceptive and bordering on criminal - given the risks - to allow these assumptions to continue through lack of Country of Origin labelling.

"The Government must accept that people have the right to know where their food comes from."


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