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Commission Policy Threatens Consumer Choice

Published: Wed 13 Oct 2004 11:26 AM
Commission Policy Threatens Consumer Choice
Commerce Commission proposals for GE-free labelling will act a "chill factor" on the supply of GE-free products, despite the majority of consumers wanting to buy them.
The hard-line policy proposing legal action against companies even for accidental contamination is unfair, and undermines the Government's commitment to facilitating a GE Free Labelling System as proposed by the Royal Commission on GM.
Public submissions on the proposals closed on Monday.
In a submission by GE-Free NZ in food and environment, the Commerce Commission has been warned that without action to create "a level playing field" for labelling of GE and GE-free products their proposals will effectively deny consumers the chance to avoid GE and to choose GE-free foods.
" We support auditing of protocols, Identity-Preservation systems, and random testing to underpin any GE-free claim," says Jon Carapiet from GE free NZ in food and environment. " But this won't protect consumer rights to buy GE-free food unless there is also action to label all "hidden" GE ingredients."
Until loopholes in legislation are addressed to require GE-derived ingredients to be labelled, companies are able to deceive consumers by using them without labelling.
It is unacceptable to target companies doing all they can to pursue a GE-free policy without necessary action being taken by ERMA, MAF and the Commerce Commission to protect the supply of GE-free ingredients that the food industry relies on.
GE Free NZ is calling for the Commerce Commission to prosecute companies which do not avoid hidden GE-derived ingredients, but also refuse to voluntarily label them as the law permits.
Use of GE feed by companies like Inghams Chickens should also be stopped, and failing this, they should be required by law to tell consumers of their policy.
The Commerce Commission appears on the one hand to be supporting misleading trade practice by default, but applying a "chill factor" on companies aiming to meet the consumer demand for the right to buy GE-free food.
Such policy not only weakens the Commerce Commission's credibility, but denies the very rights that the Royal Commission on GM and government promised to protect.
ENDS

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