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Alliance attacks Fonterra on Chinese poisoning

Alliance attacks Fonterra on Chinese child poisoning

Alliance Party media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Sunday 14 September 2008

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says New Zealand's largest company Fonterra must be held to account for the death and illness of children caused by products manufactured by their Chinese joint venture partner.

Fonterra has a 43 per cent stake in Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co Ltd, which ordered a product recall on September 11 after the death of at least one child. A further 432 babies are sick with kidney damage.

Mr Billot says that there are inconsistencies about Fonterra's claim that it asked for a product recall in August 2008.

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra says it knew in August its Chinese joint venture partner was selling contaminated milk since linked to the death of at least one baby.

He says that as a major shareholder, Fonterra management are responsible and must be held accountable.

"What kind of checks and regulation by Fonterra of their Chinese operations were carried out? I'm sure they checked out how much cash would be in it for them, so why didn't they check the safety of the production facilities?"

He says the tragedy exposes the utter hypocrisy and bankruptcy of the clean, green New Zealand brand, as our leading corporate is now implicated in selling poisoned food for infants.

Mr Billot says that under free trade agreements, New Zealand was opening itself up to a future where such incidents were common.

He says the next step could be the poisoning of New Zealand children from toxic overseas products being imported.

Mr Billot says unless free trade was replaced by a regulated system where workers rights and consumer safety came before corporate profits, the bad news would continue.

He says it is appalling that the New Zealand Government has gone to ground on the issue, but he was not surprised pro-free trade Labour and National politicians didn't want to know.

"Why don't they show some leadership, or are they too afraid they might offend their big business cronies?"

New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Goff has refused to make any comment on any damage done to the reputation of Fonterra and New Zealand exporters.

Mr Billot says that even the Chinese Government seems to have taken a stronger stance on the issue than the New Zealand Government.

The Alliance Party recently criticized an ASEAN free trade deal that links New Zealand in with nations such as China and the military dictatorship of Burma.

ENDS

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