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Government urged to support Sri Lanka in GE row

NZ Government urged to support Sri Lanka in row over "cultural " GE ban

GE- Free NZ is calling on the New Zealand government to support Sri Lanka against threats of WTO (World Trade Organisation) sanctions over their ban on genetically engineered food.

This would reflect the recommendation (10.5) by the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification for a change to the WTO rules allowing countries to avoid GE foods.

Following the rejection of a consignment of NZ cheese exports because of contamination with GE-derived emulsifiers, the NZ Dairy Board agreed to replace the cheese with non GE-product.
" It is entirely right that consumers in different countries should be allowed to say no to hidden GE ingredients. The Royal Commission explicitly called for the NZ government to support reform of the WTO to allow "cultural values" as a reason to reject GE", said Susie Lees , from GE-Free NZ.

Sri Lanka, together with a growing number of other countries including Thailand and Saudi Arabia, have already been criticised as "unscientific" by US Trade bodies for their move to ban GE imports. But the biotechnology industry is being forced to face up to the huge cultural issues around GE food in which the genes from animal species and plants are mixed.

Dairy Board slip-up damages NZ export image

"The Dairy Board has jeopardised New Zealand's clean-green export image by failing to ensure NZ exports are GE-Free" , said Susie "The producers of GE-Food have so far failed to recognise the strong cultural issues around food- not just for the largely- Buddhist population in Sri Lanka, but for peoples all over the world, including in Aotearoa/ New Zealand."

For many cultures, mixing genes across the species barrier is completely unacceptable, as shown in the High Court challenge to experiments inserting a copy of a human gene in cows.

GE -foods unacceptable to many cultures

Submissions to the Royal Commission including those from Maori, and the Jewish community, led to the Commission recommendation "10.5" (page 358 of the Commission report) which calls for the reform of the WTO rules to allow cultural values to be considered as a legal defence against the threat of trade sanctions.

Though the government has yet to announce its response to the commission there are signs that the worldwide consumer rejection of GE is encouraging food manufacturers to purge their products of all GE ingredients.

More Companies quietly pull out of GE food

In a surprise announcement August 29th a representative of the NZ Dairy Board made a commitment on National Radio's "Kim Hill " program that within a short time all GE ingredients would be removed from cheese products sold in the NZ market.

This follows Tegal's announcement that they would stop using GE-soy as chicken feed after research showed 70% of consumers did not want GE ingredients used.

There are also unconfirmed reports that Nestle, the worlds largest food-company whose pro-GE policy for products like MILO has brought widespread consumer protest in New Zealand, are moving to a GE-free policy to bring Asia-Pacific markets into line with their commitment in Europe to exclude all GE-derived ingredients.

Ends

For more information:
Susie Lees – 546 7966

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