GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 12th  May 2005

NZ Authorities Silent on "Unbelievable Sloppiness!" as EU blockades GM Corn

New Zealand Consumers are being denied information and protection by Food Safety officials at the same time as European officials are taking action to prevent illegal BT10 corn imports.

Germany's Consumer Protection Minister has blamed the US for "unbelievable sloppiness!"
in allowing contamination of the food system by Bt10- an illegal form of GE corn.

The German Minister's hard-hitting critcism in 'Spiegel' is another signal that New Zealand authorities are failing in their responsibilties to uphold the law and protect public health by refusing to take any action.

Silence from our own Health and Consumer Ministers are a betrayal of their duties to the New Zealand public.

The Food Standards Authority based in Australia ( FSANZ) are now using "Article 15" of the Austalian Freedom of Information Act to block information being released to New Zealand organisations and individuals.

"The Bt 10 contamination is a case-study in deceit and failure of the regulatory system," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

The attempt by officials to deny access to information because "you have to have an Australian address" is a sign of what is to come if action is not taken to close the legal loophole allowing freedom of information legislation to be cynically undermined."

Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681

Spiegel International, Germany, April 18 2005,1518,352006,00.html

Renate Kuenast, Germany's consumer protection minister, says Europe had
no choice but to ban genetically modified corn from the United States
because American farmers have no system in place for labeling GMOs and
tracing them back to their producers.

DPA Consumer Protection Minister Renate Kuenast: "There is a lack of

SPIEGEL: Ms. Kuenast, last Friday the European Union decided that no
genetically modified corn from the US can enter Europe anymore. What
about the ships that are anchoring in front of Rotterdam? Can they
be unloaded?

Kuenast: No. Nobody will accept their cargo right now. It's about
setting a precedence. The action is the only possible way of dealing
with an unbelievable sloppiness -- the mixing of different genetically
modified corn families. The so-called Bt10 corn from the US, with its
resistance against the antibiotic Ampicillin is neither permitted in
US nor in Europe. The EU has not banned all US corn imports. It is
merely demanding proof that the imported corn products do not include
any Bt10.

SPIEGEL: ... which the Americans are unable to provide.

Kuenast: That's a problem. In the US, unlike Europe,
genetically-modified food isn't labelled and it can't be traced back to
the producer. This deficiency is a stumbling block in cases like this.
There is a lack of transparency.

SPIEGEL: US agricultural corporations are now threatening to sue for
billions in damages. Isn't the measure excessive?

Kuenast: The Europeans, and especially we Germans, have also learned
lesson. Think of the BSE (mad cow disease) scandal or foot-and-mouth
disease. They cost farmers and the EU billions. And as a consequence we
introduced transparent rules both in Berlin and Brussels that are easy
to monitor. Ever since, consumer protection has had top priority.

SPIEGEL: But couldn't it be that you want to force the world to adopt
your rigid position on agricultural genetic engineering. According to
estimates of the German Economics Ministry, this position comes at the
expense of both know-how and jobs.

Kuenast: It's quite the contrary. Organic farming has already created
150,000 jobs in Germany alone. A study by Ernst & Young showed that
there are only 2,000 jobs in the sector of agricultural genetic
engineering. And our clear-cut requirements -- security, labeling, and
traceability -- have already created an economic advantage, especially
in the export sector. Throughout the world, consumers are weary of
genetically modified products. Producers know this. For many,
from these products is already paying off.

SPIEGEL: The US are going to fight the Brussels decision. What do you
think the outcome will be?

Kuenast: I do acknowledge that the decision is a challenge for the US.
But I do not believe that a solution lies in imposing further trade

SPIEGEL: US diplomats have indirectly threatened in recent days and
weeks that there could be an escalating trade war.

Kuenast: I would not phrase it that way.

SPIEGEL: Then how would you phrase it?

Kuenast: The Americans were very committed on the issue. They wanted
change our mind, but, as you can see, without success.

SPIEGEL: So you expect the US to follow Germany's fixation with the

Kuenast: Rubbish. To begin with, this is a European measure, not a
German one. And US corn exporters have to comply with EU rules just as
European exporters have to comply with US rules. But I do believe that
America will start discussing whether the current lax position on
genetically modified foods is still maintainable.

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