GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 5th September 2003

Parents denied ‘right to know’ what they are feeding their babies. 
Call for independent GE food labelling review.


Less than one year after the joint Australia and New Zealand Food Authority GE labelling regime was introduced parents are being denied the ‘right to know’ what they are feeding their babies.

GE Free New Zealand is calling for an independent review of the FSANZ (Food Safety Australia and New Zealand) GE labelling regime.

“The Minister of Health says we have the best GE labelling regime in the world, this is not true,” said Susie Lees of GE Free NZ in Food and Environment. “An independent review of FSANZ, similar to the one recently carried out on ERMA- the Environmental Risk Management Authority, would help point out the inadequacies of this regulatory agency.”

The EU recently lowered its thresholds for accidental contamination with GM material to 0.9% of any product ingredient that is approved for use in foods by the EU, and zero for any contamination by non-approved GM material. A recent application by Bayer for the approval of soy, genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant, could be the reason why the government are keeping silent about the names of the products concerned.

“If the soy in these products that have been tested turn out to be from a variety not yet approved in this country, they could be illegal,” said Susie Lees.

In 1999, 5713 public submissions were received by the Ministry of Health, most asked for labelling of ALL foods produced from gene technology. GE labelling was then delayed for 3 years, and now as a result of the many exclusions, many foods produced from GE technology are on our supermarket shelves unlabelled.

Earlier this year GE Free New Zealand ran a competition to find 5 supermarket products with ‘may contain GE’ labels, only GE Free labels were found.

“There is absolutely no proof of safety of GE foods, gene constructs were found to cross to stomach bacteria after only one meal of soy in tests on human volunteers in the UK last year. Why should the public have to wait for proof of harm, when evidence points to that way already?” 

Contact- Susie Lees 03 546 7966 Claire Bleakley 06 308 9842

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