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Government reaps what it sows with MPI

Damien O’Connor
Primary Industries Spokesperson

11 December 2013

Government reaps what it sows with MPI

The Government’s cost cutting in food safety is to blame for the Fonterra botulism scare, a new report has found, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“The independent report into the contaminated whey protein is a damning indictment on the Government’s creation of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“If the ministries of agriculture and forestry, fisheries, Biosecurity New Zealand and the Food Safety Authority hadn’t been merged into one super ministry in 2012, millions of taxpayer dollars would not now have to be spent ensuring it can perform its basic functions.

“The report found MPI’s role in overseeing the safety of food exported to our international markets became blurred amidst the ministry’s many other roles.

“It has also highlighted a shortage of experienced staff at all levels of the ministry, a loss of scientific staff and few workers with significant experience in the dairy industry.

“Even the Government’s flagship Primary Growth Partnership fund doesn’t escape criticism with its focus is on economic growth and not on food safety.

“MPI dropped the ball on food safety and New Zealand’s international reputation has been permanently damaged.

“This Government’s hands-off approach to primary industries has been found wanting.

“The report recommends swift legislative action be taken to reassure international markets our export products are properly overseen.

“Labour will work with the Government to make sure our international exports partners retain confidence in our products and regulatory systems,” Damien O’Connor says.

ENDS

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