A biotech industry group in the US has been pushing for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) to prevent labelling of almost all GMO products and leave consumers in the dark.
A submission by BIO: Biotechnology Industry Organisations to the US trade negotiator at the TPP shows the push to shut down labelling of GM food began early on in the trade negotiations. There are fears that pressure from industry has continued behind closed doors and will lead to a sell out of consumers throughout the trade region.(1)(2)
BIO proposes overturning the right of member-states to label GM foods. The submission calls for a stop to labelling of most kinds of GM foods approved in New Zealand. It requires governments to accept them as 'substantially equivalent' to conventional foods.
The push mirrors other recent industry lobbying within the US to have GM foods labelled 'natural'.(3)
The industry submission also proposes that a code of silence be imposed on governments dealing with problems relating to GM crops. It seeks to require countries in the TPP agreement to do nothing that may harm the success of GM crops and require them to 'consult' with the US government.
"The effect is to deny consumers the right to know whether a product is GM or not, and to muzzle government regulators," said Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
There is also a threat to New Zealand's economic success in being able to market GM-free food to the world. This includes undermining exports to the USA where non-GM foods are the fastest growing grocery sector and are set to become one third of the total US market.(4)
Trade Minister Tim Groser must commit to protecting people's choice not to eat GM food, and ensure the economic opportunity for New Zealand as a producer of clean, GM-free food, is not destroyed.
1) BIO submission
Jon Carapiet, National Spokesman 0210507681
Claire Bleakley, President - 0273486731