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New GE Food Labelling Regulations Not Far Enough

6/12/01

Groundswell Canterbury has welcomed the introduction of labelling for genetically engineered foods, but says that the labelling requirements do not go far enough. Spokesperson Tremane Barr said “Consumers have been demanding the right to avoid eating food containing genetically modified organisms for many years now and although the labelling regulations do not go far enough they are a step in the right direction.”

“There are many reasons as to why consumers want the freedom to choose a lifestyle free from eating genetically modified organisms. The main reason people want to avoid eating GE food is because of health concerns that many independent scientists have raised surrounding GE food.” said Tremane Barr.

Professor Richard Lacey, microbiologist, medical doctor, and Professor of Food Safety at Leeds University, who is famous for his accurate prediction of the dangers of " Mad cow disease" more than nine years ago has said of the health danger from GE foods, "The fact is, it is virtually impossible to even conceive of a testing procedure to assess the health effects of genetically engineered foods when introduced into the food chain” and that genetically engineered foods pose “essentially unlimited health risks.”

“The other main reasons for not buying GE Foods are to try and avoid GE agriculture contaminating even further surrounding conventional and organic crops, as well as ethical, moral and spiritual concerns that GE as a process is fundamentally an abuse of nature where scientists are arrogantly playing God. As one women said to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification at the National Maori Hui ‘Genetic engineering is the work of Satan.’” said Tremane Barr The new genetically modified food regulations state that where novel DNA and/or protein is present in the final food and where the food has altered characteristics then these must be labelled. However, there are many exceptions to this labelling requirement such as highly refined food where the effect of the refining process is to remove novel DNA and/or protein; processing aids and food additives except those where novel DNA and/or protein is present in the final food; flavours which are present in a concentration less than or equal to 0. 1% in the final food; and food prepared at the point of sale.

“These exceptions to the GE food labelling regulations are unacceptable. Consumers must have the right to choose what they are eating. Annette King represented New Zealand at the ANZFA discussions and pushed for tighter labelling, but was defeated by the Australian states. Because of this Groundswell wants the New Zealand government to leave ANZFA and set up our own GE food labelling standards that meet the overwhelming demands of consumers to been informed as to what is in their food.”

Groundswell is currently developing a voluntary certification system for cafes, restaurants, bakeries and other food producers to give consumers the assurance that what they are eating is free from genetically modified organisms.

For Further Details Contact: Tremane Barr Ph. 981-5235 Email: tremane.barr@clear.net.nz


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