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Consumers demand action over Australian GE threat


PRESS RELEASE

New Zealand Consumers demand action from Ministers over Australian GE-Food threat. 9.4.01

NZ consumers are making an urgent plea for Ministerial action over the threat from Australia to New Zealand consumers’ basic rights to eat safe and GE Free food products, and NZ manufacturers right to produce them.

The Australian government plans to give Australian & global food corporations greater control over New Zealand's food regulations have created alarm, coming as they do just as massive breaches to GE-regulation are revealed in Australia. Further, international scrutiny of GE food testing has revealed there is a total lack of independent testing to ensure health or environmental safety.

In pleas for action to Health Minister Annette King, acting Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Anderton, as well as Ministers representing Agriculture and the Environment, GE-Free New Zealand highlights the fact that Australia has already suffered major breaches of control of GE organisms. Untested GE foods are also being forced unlabelled onto an uninformed Australian public, and corporate interests now threaten NZ food safety and agricultural production.

“The Royal Commission has been given evidence of the breakdown of ANZFA systems for labelling and safety testing of GE foods, that have already been on sale for up to 3 years. Now we have proposals to give Australian and global businesses - many actually competing with NZ food producers - even greater control." said Susie Lees of GE-Free NZ. “Also driving New Zealand consumer concerns is the publicity surrounding a complete lack of international independent safety tests of Genetically Modified foods, which international media reports reveal have never been carried out!"

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that two multinationals involved in genetic modification were guilty of the worst breach of crop controls in Australia to date. Both companies are also involved in GE canola trials in NZ that are still being monitored after 4 years. This comes a week after an Ottawa court set a precedent in their controversial decision to fine a farmer whose crop had been contaminated by neighbour’s pollen; destroying both his conventional crop and his integrity as a seed producer. The decision also appears to allow Monsanto to avoid any responsibility or liability for genetic contamination its products may cause.

A round of GE testing reported by the Wall Street Journal (5 April) showed that, in its sampling of 20 supposedly GE Free vegetarian products, 16 products contained bio-engineered soybeans. Contaminated organic products are already being found on the market. A new organic system recently promoted by US government will further lower organic standards.

Ms Lees, stated, “We are beginning to see the inevitable in the USA - genetic contamination of both crops and the food supply is bringing huge problems. We are not prepared to see the continual erosion of standards here and a resulting loss of premium agricultural exports. We are asking government to hear New Zealanders call to retain bio-integrity in order to maintain our present buoyant economy which is benefiting from our clean, green image."

ENDS

- Susie Lees, Secretary, GE Free NZ Ph/Fax 03-546-7966 email Susie@tasman.net

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