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NZ Govt backs US war on European consumers

NZ Govt backs US war on European consumers

The New Zealand Government should immediately withdraw its support for the US case to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the de-facto genetic engineering (GE) moratorium in Europe. The case is an attack on the majority of European consumers, who have rejected GE foods. The Bush administration today announced the first formal step towards a WTO challenge against the European Union GE food policy. According to a US Government press release, confirmed by Wellington, the case has third party support from the New Zealand Government (1).

“It seems ridiculous that our Government is attacking instead of defending Europe’s right to regulate their own food and agriculture,” said Greenpeace New Zealand Campaigner Steve Abel. “All countries are entitled to safe, natural food and have the right to refuse GE foods and demand mandatory labelling of GE products.”

“Our Government should immediately withdraw from the US case.”

“The US administration is effectively declaring a war on consumers. But it is a war the US will not win. To launch a WTO case to help the desperate genetic engineering industry to market its unwanted GE products is an insult to the European public. Greenpeace strongly condemns this blatant attempt to bully the European Union and is confident that this will only serve to reinforce consumer rejection of GMOs, which is the real cause of US loss of markets,”

“The European Union holds the moral high ground defending the rights of a large majority of its citizens, as opposed to the US administration, which is using the WTO to defend narrow industry interests at the expense of the environment and people’s right to choose what they eat.”

The EU’s powerful response to the US challenge confirms that consumer rejection is the real reason for GE’s failure in Europe: “It is the lack of consumer demand for GM products that accounts for the low sales of GMOs in the EU market,” the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection David Byrne said (2).

* U.S. and Cooperating Countries File WTO Case Against EU Moratorium on Biotech Foods and Crops, Washington, May 13, 2003.

* European Commission regrets US decision to file WTO case on GMOs as misguided and unnecessary, Brussels, 13 May 2003. http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/pdf/EU_Statement.pdf

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