GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 29th  April 2004

NZ government urged to defend EU against US law suit

A despicable attack on Europe with a $1.8 billion lawsuit by the US shows that the American biotech industry and US government do not have the public's health or consumer rights at heart. In taking this action the US has chosen to intimidate the largest Union in the world, and New Zealand should terminate its previous support for this US attack via the WTO.

"It is no fault of Europe that the safety of genetically engineered foods has not been proven and that GMOs have a deleterious effect on the environment" said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment. "We are asking that the New Zealand government immediately remove its signature to this law suit".

There is now clear evidence that America's regulatory bodies have been remiss in allowing GE foods on the market without adequate independent safety tests. Recent incidents include Monsanto's Yieldgard BT corn grown in the Philippines, linked to illness in about 100 people. Residents from Sitio Kalyong suffered headache, dizziness, extreme stomach pain, vomiting and allergies. Their blood tests found a high antibody reaction to BT toxins.

In mid April 2004 the diocesan Social Action Center raised a new fears that the controversial crop might have again caused the illnesses that hit last year, when at least a dozen residents in a farming community experienced some of the same symptoms.

Health Minister Annette King has acknowledged there are no diagnostic tests for the impact of ingesting GE foods. Medical practitioners whose patients show clinical signs of allergies have no ability to assess the effects of GE foods. This is a serious concern in the light of findings that have shown damage to organs and immune systems in animals that have eaten GE foods.

The British Medical Association say children, the elderly and people with digestive problems and diabetes are all more susceptible to ingested transgenic foods.

"It is wrong for New Zealand to be backing the US attack on European consumers when they share our values and buy our GE-free products" says Claire Bleakley. "How can the government claim to make decisions based on principle when they intend forcing unwanted experimental GE foods on unwilling customers."

Contact Claire Bleakley 06 308 9842

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