GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 29th August 2003

Minister says she supports 'informed choice' for customers.

GE Free New Zealand last week asked ministers Marian Hobbs and Annette King for full labelling and proper testing regimes to be implemented immediately beefing up New Zealand GE labelling laws to the same standards as the stringent new EU labelling regimes. 
They were also asked to preserve the integrity of our food by requiring ERMA and MAF to protect 100% GE-Free production by their decision-making, monitoring and enforcement.

'New Zealanders deserve to have a properly 'informed choice' at the very least, with ALL foods produced by gene technology labelled, as was required by the majority of submitters to the Ministry of Health's submission process on GE foods in 1999,'said Susie Lees from GE Free New Zealand in Food and Environment.

'Minister Marian Hobbs statements this week showed that she not only fails to realise that approval processes are lax, but is unaware of the serious health risks of genetically engineering of our food.'

'With contamination events continuing to hit the headlines, the public want full assurances that the home grown corn the public are presently eating is not GE. They would also like GE soy in baby milk labelled.'

Earlier this year it was found that US companies didn't provide enough data to prove GE foods safe and that the Food and Drug Administration FDA's review process was inadequate, the Australia and New Zealand process mirrors this and is at present up for review.

Last year a University of Newcastle research trial feeding human volunteers with GE soy found transfer of its specific DNA to stomach bacteria after only one meal. Dr Stanley Ewen, a consultant histopathologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, has warned that a cauliflower virus used in GM foods could increase the risk of stomach and colon cancers.

Senior medical figures from the British Medical Association last year repeated warnings saying GE crop trials in Scotland should be halted immediately as a "precautionary measure" to safeguard public health,stating that "insufficient care" had been taken over public health and concerns are "serious enough" to justify an immediate end to the trials.

GE Free NZ in Food and Environment has grave concerns that an  inappropriate level of understanding of the issues, alongside lobbying by business interests may be contributing to inadequate decisions by government and regulatory agencies.

Contact - Susie Lees 03 546 7966

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