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Minister Talks Up Perceived GE Contamination

23 August 2003

Anger At Threat To Exports As Minister Talks Up Perceived GE Contamination

Minister Marion Hobbs's response to a Survey published by the National Business Review could seriously damage New Zealand's export image and economy. The survey shows that some 80% of the Public has been deceived into wrongly believing New Zealand is "not GE-Free".

Ministerial responses to the survey have failed to defend the integrity and GE-Free status of New Zealand produce and any resulting damage to our export image must be laid at the government's door.

"Fonterra do not use Bovine Growth Hormone here , so our dairy products are basically GE-Free. All New Zealand's fruit and vegetable exports are GE-Free. Excepting the corn contamination- the vast majority of our grains and other crops are GE-Free. Our lamb, mutton, pork and beef are GE-Free, even to the point of not using GE-derived feed. So why isn't the government clarifying that to the world and are instead talking up the misleading findings in the survey?" says Jon Carapiet, spokesperson for GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).

"Any damage will be an outcome of government attempts to "spin" facts to undermine public support for a GE-Free policy for food and environment so vital to our Brand image".

The Government Ministers like Marion Hobbs and other Labour MPs have proudly crowed for months that " New Zealand isn't GE-Free now" and that has been picked up in the survey. Unfortunately this claim has been politically motivated rather than an honest statement of the facts that serves the national interest.

Marion Hobbs is playing games when she says the survey shows "greater sophistication" instead she should be stressing New Zealand produce is still "GE-Free". " We are as GE-Free as we are Nuclear-Free. Yes you can have an X-ray in a hospital, and yes you can take GE insulin made in the lab. But that is not the same as declaring all our exports are now contaminated by GE,' said Mr Carapiet.

" The Minister is risking damaging our exports and our economy by playing up a survey that shows people are subject to deception not that New Zealand has widespread GE contamination," says Mr. Carapiet.

" We demand government Ministers clarify for the international markets exactly which of our produce are GE-Free. If any are not- the Minister must say what they are."

ENDS

Contact Jon Carapiet - 09 815 3370


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