INDEPENDENT NEWS

GE Legislation Ready To Go

Published: Thu 21 Oct 1999 04:28 PM
'If ANZFA back-track of their half-hearted commitment to label foods containing genetically engineered substances, then my labelling bill is ready to go on day one of a new government,' Alliance spokesperson on health Phillida Bunkle said today.
Health Ministers from Australia and New Zealand will meet tomorrow in Australia to decide whether or not to introduce labelling.
'ANZFA (The Australian and New Zealand Food Authority) has been cornered by the big industry players who desperately don't want labelling. It is likely that tomorrow's decision will mark another back-track.
In August ANZFA announced it would look at a tiered system of labelling. Under this system some food would be labelled 'may contain genetically modified food.
''A 'may contain' label is meaningless. It tells the New Zealand consumer nothing. 'A 'may contain' label is 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, after New Zealanders have been eating it for a few years, they avoid full liability.
'The anti-label brigade at ANZFA will probably argue tomorrow that the cost for full labelling is too high. 'My message to the multi-national companies who stand to make big profits from GE foods is this: you want to make us eat the food, you cover the costs.
'This is a health issue first and foremost. New Zealand consumers have a right to know when they are buying and eating foods that contain GE substances.
'Only then can families make an informed choice about whether to take the risk or not.
'We know how to trace what food products contain and where they come from. We do it with meat. We know., for example which farm each piece of meat comes from. So we can do the same with GE foods.
'It requires a record of when any GE product is used in the making of food. It's not complicated and the expense is manageable and worth it.
'Anything less than full labelling is unacceptable to the Alliance, and to New Zealand consumers. My Bill will pick up the pieces if ANZFA and our representative from this National government let us down tomorrow,' said Phillida.
ends

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