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Local Labour Branch Debate Use Of GE In NZ

Labour Eco-Branch

The Mt Albert Labour ECO-Branch held a second weekend-meeting at which discussions included the urgent issues relating to Genetic Engineering, and the growing calls for a "GE-Free NZ" demonstrated in the recent Auckland rally.

The Eco-branch will be sending a summary of the main concerns to Marion Hobbs, Minister of the Environment,and local MP Helen Clark- The Prime Minister- as their contribution to the development of the Labour Party policy for the strategic direction for New Zealand.

One urgent concern discussed at the meeting was the need to protect New Zealand's clean-green image. It was felt there is potential damage to NZ's export-image from the Dairy Board's deal to market US milk ( including rBGH hormone-treated milk which NZ Federated Farmers rejected 18 months ago), and the tie-in with Nestles. Concerns included the consequences of this for mothers and pregnant women internationally, as well as the impact on NZ's Brand image. Also of concern were plans by the Australian and New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) to further delay labelling of GE foods for another year, by allowing foods already 'in the warehouse' to be sold to consumers unlabelled.

The meeting agreed to highlight other concerns to the Minister and Prime Minister including: - Only allowing field trials for contained uses of GE , not for release in the environment. -No further delay in labelling GE foods, and improving the system in line with the EU -Stopping the use of TERMINATOR genes ( which produce barren seed) , or use of sterile seeds requiring a proprietary chemical to start growing at all

-Requiring companies and resaerch organisations to be insured , rather than "socialise" the risk on the public. -Respecting cultural values- Maori and Non-Maori-and working for reform of the WTO in line with the Royal Commission reccommendation (10.5) -Recognising NZ's unique geographical position and measuring the positive effect being GE-Free will have on NZ- ethically, culturally and financially.

The next meeting of the Eco-branch will be 30th September 2001, Mt Albert, Auckland.


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