INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government attempting to mislead on G-E food

Published: Mon 2 Aug 1999 01:54 PM
Far from changing its tune on the labelling of genetically engineered foods, the government is once again attempting to delay and mis-lead the New Zealand public, said Alliance spokesperson on health, Phillida bunkle.
A message of support from Phillida Bunkle was read out to demonstrators from the Emergency Coalition.
The demonstrators gathered at parliament today to put pressure on Wyatt Creech to vote tomorrow at ANSFA for nothing but full and unambiguous labelling.
'Unfortunately the leopard has not m odified its spots. Wyatt Creech hasn't suddenly become a devout believer in the labelling of genetically engineered foods.
'Wyatt Creech has said publicly that he will be supporting a tiered system of labelling. Under this system, some food will be labelled 'contains genetically modified food' and some other food will be labelled 'may contain genetically modified food.
''The 'may contain' label is a farce. What does it mean? It's a coded message to the manufacturers that they can take the lazy road legally, and plonk on a 'may contain' label. That way if it is revealed that their food does contain GE substances, they avoid full liability,' said Phillida.
'The government's plan has always been to sabotage labelling both at home and overseas. I have the documents to prove it.
'When that failed because the New Zealand public were demanding labelling, the Government's strategy switched to a 'may or may not support labelling'.'Wyatt Creech's plan now is to look like 'Custer's Last Stand' at the ANSFA meeting on Tuesday, knowing that mandatory labelling will be voted down by the majority. He can look like the hero, with the reassurance that he won't win.
'Even if he did win, the 'may contain ' label is worse than no label at all. It tells the consumer nothing. Its' like picking up a block of cheese with a label on it that says, 'this may be cheese - then again it may not.
''There is also the added confusion of products that will be excluded from labelling, refined products like oil, starch etc. Why should these be excluded?
'The government is adding smoke and mirrors to a debate that is of vital importance to the New Zealand consumer and the future of our economy . The Alliance will continue to push for a meaningful labelling process that is clear, inclusive of all food products and genuinely informs consumers,' said Phllida.
ENDS

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