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National plays with mirrors in GE debate

Sat Oct 23 1999

National is playing games with New Zealand consumers who want labelling of GE foods, said Alliance spokesperson on health, Phillida Bunkle.She was responding to news that the Australian and New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) has yet again delayed the introduction of a labelling system for genetically engineered foods, despite ratifying its August agreement to label in principal. 'National is playing a game of mirrors. 'They make a delay sound awfully reasonable, but in reality we don't need more reviews, more industry feedback on the issue, or yet another public survey to tell us what we already know - that New Zealanders want full, clear labelling and they want it as quickly as possible,' 'What New Zealanders need is leadership on this issue.'The full cost of labelling should have been established by now. If National were really committed to labelling they would have worked out real costs in 1997 when I challenged them to do just that.'My members Bill called for labelling but was rejected by National on the basis of cost.'I wrote to every MP and minister in parliament pointing out that they had made no attempt to measure these costs. They had no evidence to back up their ludicrous claims that it would cost industry $300 million.'Evidence of costs does exists. All you have to do is measure the cost of quality assurance programmes based on traceability. These have been adopted by the meat and wool industries because they have been found to be cost-effective. 'What is now obvious is that National had no idea of the cost then, and haven't bothered to find out now. The real reason they rejected my Bills was because they don't really want labelling. 'The cost of labelling could be worked out quickly and thoroughly. 'It only requires an extension of the process we already use with much success, in tracing the source of New Zealand meat and wool. Meat carrying the quality mark can already be traced to the farm.'The only reliable way to guarantee a full and clear system of labelling in New Zealand is to have a party represented in the next government who is committed to it. The Alliance is that party. My Bills are ready to go if National continue to delay,' said Phillida.

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