GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 11th August 2003

Government Must Quit Unethical Attack on EU at WTO

It is unethical for the New Zealand government to be backing the US administration’s case against the European Union aimed at forcing consumers to accept GM foods. “This attack on EU standards is unethical given the lack of food safety-testing and Europe’s cultural values around food,’ says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment. “Most New Zealanders share these values and want to protect the supply of GE-Free food here and overseas.” 

“This is evidenced by the many sectors of New Zealand’s Food Industry asking the Select Committee considering the “New Organisms and Other Matters” bill to extend the moratorium on GE release,” says Mr Carapiet. “ By attacking the EU the government is not just compromising GE-free supplies here, but is actively attacking basic rights for Europeans to chose what they eat”. 

Despite public backing and the support of Prince Charles for preserving GE-Free food supplies there are already moves in Europe to ban countries like Wales from declaring GE-free zones to protect their agricultural system. So far the New Zealand government has stopped short of attempting to ban local GE-Free zones being established - which the Royal Commission on GM supported as a way of preserving people's choice to avoid GE and meeting Treaty obligations. “ It is incredible that our government is engaged in a process to force people to eat and grow food that is culturally offensive and scientifically unsound. 

It is like New Zealand forcing nuclear waste onto Pacific nations,” says Mr. Carapiet. The US government confirmed last week (see article below) that it intends to pursue the case, backed by a few other countries including New Zealand. The mistreatment of former UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher at the Select Committee considering laws to release GE organisms in New Zealand brought shame on New Zealand. Mr Meacher’s warnings about contamination following release and the need for further testing on risks from GE foods to children, the elderly and those with suppressed immunity must not go ignored. It is unethical for politicians and regulatory agencies to cover up the scientific
uncertainties and go on with this experiment. 

Contact Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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USA: US launches WTO case against EU over GM foods 
08 Aug 2003
Source: just-food.com
The US said yesterday [Thursday] it would launch its formal challenge to the EU’s negative alleged ban on geneticallyl modified foods at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). US trade representative Robert Zoellick and agriculture secretary Ann Veneman confirmed they would combat the European policy by asking the WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel, reported Agence France Presse. They indicated they would have the support of other countries. "Delegations from the United States, Canada and Argentina consulted in June with EU officials, but the EU indicated no willingness to comply with its WTO obligations by lifting the groundless moratorium on biotech products," Zoellick said. Last month the EU moderated its stance by accepting two new labelling directives on GM foods, but the US felt the new rules changed little. The EU imposed the moratorium because of concerns about food safety shared by a number of prominent politicians, environmental campaigners and a significant body of consumers.