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Labelling costs lack credibility

'GE industry supporters who claim that the cost of labelling GE foods in Australia and New Zealand is $3 billion are frankly off the planet,' said Alliance spokesperson on health, Phillida Bunkle.

She was responding to claims that the Australian Food and Grocery Council have supplied the council of ANZFA, which meets today in Australia with a costing for labelling. ANZFA is the Australian and New Zealand Food Authority. It's council is called the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Council.

'Th e supporters of GE foods apparently claim in a report which has not been made public, that labelling GE foods would cost $3 billion in year one and $1.5 billion in later years.

'These figures are preposterous. This is nothing more than a desperate attempt to de-rail any labelling initiative.

'Meanwhile, labelling of genetically engineered substances has been accepted in countries like the UK. Why are we still wasting time litigating the very obvious reasons for labelling?

'The Australian economy is about six times bigger than the New Zealand economy. A sixth of $3 billion is $500 million dollars. That's their guess at the cost of labelling in New Zealand.

'New Zealanders spends about $10 billion on food each year. So if, as these kindergarten economists claim, it would cost $500 million to label, then they expect us to believe that it would cost 5% of our total food bill to label GE foods.

'That's plain rubbish. The cost of GE labelling wouldn't even be close to the cost of putting sticky brand labels on apples!

'The process of establishing what needs to be labelled and what doesn't is simply a case of tracking the production of food.

'It only requires a record of when and where any genetically engineered substance is added to a food product. That's not expensive.

'We already trace the history of any product containing New Zealand wool and any New Zealand meat. We know, for example which farm each piece of meat comes from.

'All we have to do is follow that system for other food products. Safety tests are not required for labelling. Only traceability is needed,' said Phillida.

'It's the only way New Zealand consumers will know what they're eating. Surely we deserve the right to choose,' said Phillida.

ends

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