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Fears Government is abandoning ‘GE-Free’ options

Fear that Government is abandoning ‘GE-Free’ options as consumers mark anniversary of supermarket protests

There are fears the government is abandoning preservation of 100% GE-free food production in New Zealand as indicated by its consultation document on a voluntary scheme for “GE-Free labelling“, and its plans to allow commercial GM release from October.

“Consumers want to buy New Zealand-made products that are 100% GE-Free.

We are calling on the government to publicly commit to protecting that choice,” says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).

May 13th marks the anniversary of protests at supermarkets that saw scores of consumers label products likely to contain hidden GM ingredients, and resulted in the arrest and court-appearance of three of the shoppers.

The Royal Commission proposed people’s rights to choose GE-free food should be protected by the government facilitating the creation of a voluntary “ GE-Free”.

However, the government’s consultation document open for comment until 30 May suggests that contamination thresholds could make labelling completely impossible. Companies are being threatened with the full weight of the law for labelling products GE-Free and this is having a “chilling effect” on the introduction of labels that would allow consumers to avoid products from companies continuing to use hidden GE ingredients.

Unless the government put in place policy that reserves the availability of GE-free food there will be no choice to avoid GE foods. Consumers are being deceived by companies that use hidden GE-derived ingredients, but the issue of unfair trading is being ignored by authorities. Yesterday women from MADGE ( Mothers Against GE in food and the environment) staged a supermarket protest in Auckland, targeting companies who have refused to remove such ingredients or voluntarily label them.

The government has refused to extend “positive” labelling of GE ingredients to cover the hidden ingredients in supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and takeaways.

The government’s new bill to allow the conditional and full commercial release of GM organisms, (the “New Organisms and Other Matters Bill”) has also raised alarm over the absence of any protection for GE-free production into the future.

The government needs to make a public commitment to protect the future for GE-free meat, fruit, vegetable, and honey-production.

“The Bill must have a new clause requiring ERMA to protect the continuing existence of GE-free production” says Mr Carapiet.

“ I believe the New Zealand public expect the supply of GE-free food to be guaranteed by the government, but instead it is being threatened by the government’s push for “coexistence” based on a threshold of acceptable contamination” he says.

A commitment from government is vital, especially if it remains intransigent about extending the moratorium, and continues to ignore the moratoria being introduced across NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, in European countries like Switzerland and around the world.

Failure or success in protecting the future of GE-Free production in New Zealand would be a defining moment for this government, and for the whole country.

© Scoop Media

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