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Govt Backs Off GE Labelling Scheme

06 September 2001

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today she is very disappointed that Health Minister Annette King is backing off her commitment to label genetically engineered food by December this year.

"Mrs King refused to give me any assurance in Parliament today that she would vote against an ANZFA proposal to allow unlabelled food to remain on our shelves for up to 12 more months," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Excuse me for being cynical, but we just seem to move further and further away from a labelling scheme that tells consumers what they want to know - whether the food they're eating is genetically engineered or not."

ANZFA is proposing to allow 'stock in trade' to remain on the shelves unlabelled for up to 12 months.

"There is nothing to stop supermarkets from stocking up on unlabelled food over the next three months, and then filling up their shelves with it for the next year," she said. "This is one more loophole in a labelling system already full of holes."

In July 2000, the Australian and New Zealand Ministers turned down an earlier attempt by the food industry to get a 12 month exemption for stock in trade.

"Mrs King today tried to play down the loophole by saying that the average shelf-life of products is less than four weeks," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"The obvious question is, why on earth she's about to approve a 52 week extension, if she truly believes that products are only going to sit on the shelves for four weeks."

Ms Fitzsimons said ANZFA's attempt to circumvent the public submission process by slashing the amount of time for public submissions from 12-16 weeks to three weeks was undemocratic and sneaky.

Ends


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