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Government failed to rule out back-track on labell

Bunkle The Government is likely to attempt a back-track on its commitment to label genetically engineered foods at an ANSFA meeting on 3rd August, Alliance health spokesperson Phillida Bunkle said today.

Today in Parliament Minister of Health Wyatt Creech failed to rule out a whole or partial back-track on his government's commitment to labelling.

Late last year the Australian and New Zealand Food Authority (ANSFA) agreed under pressure to label all genetically engineered foods. But now Phillida Bunkle says the New Zealand and Australian governments are attempting to find ways to back-track.

Reports in Australian daily newspapers reveal that ANSFA CEO, Ian Lindenmayer has been lobbying to get the decision to fully label, reversed.

'Given this government's reputation for duplicity on this issue, it doesn't surprise me that our government would also be looking for loopholes to get out of their promise to support full labelling.

'In May of last year Official Information documents ! released to the Alliance revealed that the Shipley government tried to pressure Japan not to adopt labelling of GE foods, even though the Prime Minister continues to this day to claim that her Government supports labelling.

'Phillida Bunkle has a letter to the Japanese Government, dated September 9th 1998 and signed by the New Zealand, Australian, Canadian and US embassies.

'This is to inform you of our shared opposition to the possibility that Japan may elect a labelling policy for genetically modified or ganisms which could adversely affect exports of agricultural products to Japan and raise costs to consumers,' the joint embassy letter begins.

In May of this year Mrs Shipley told Parliament that the government supported labelling.

'The Government is committed to making sure that food sold in New Zealand is safe. Consumers need to be informed about what they are eating. In our view all food should be labelled,' she told parliament.

'The Prime Minister revealed then that her assurances in parliament on this issue don't mean much . While she says one thing to the public of New Zealand, she bullies Japan to reject labelling behind closed doors.

'Not only this, other documents obtained under the Official Information Act by the Alliance last year revealed that Associate Minister of Health, John Delemere was clearly instructed to vote against labelling at the December ANSFA meeting, and do all he could to delay a decision.

'For this reason, we must all watch vigilantly on the 3rd of August to see that Mrs Shipley's government doesn't succeed in its efforts to backtrack on this very important issue,' said Phillida Bunkle.Copies of all documents available from Alliance office.

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