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3-Food: New Zealand warned Japan to label GM food

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TITLE:  NZ discourages gene labelling
SOURCE: New Zealand Herald, by Bernard Orsman
DATE:   May 3, 1999

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NZ discourages gene labelling

New Zealand has been in cahoots with the United States to stop Japan labelling genetically modified foods, papers released last night by the Alliance show. The papers reveal high-level diplomatic pressure by the embassies of New Zealand, the United States, Canada and Australia in September to "discourage" Japan from pursuing mandatory labelling of genetically modified food. The Alliance health spokeswoman, Phillida Bunkle, said the Prime Minister's assurances about labelling genetically modified food in New Zealand did not measure up against her Government's action.

"Back in March the Prime Minister declared she fully supported labelling because `New Zealand consumers have the right to know what they are eating.' Then we discover all this time the Government has been actively trying to stop labelling." Last week, Mrs Shipley repeated in Parliament that the Government supported labelling. In the same week, National ministers bagged the Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons as "anti-big business and anti-American" for her campaign against genetically modified food.

It followed a warning from United States Ambassador Josiah Beeman that New Zealand could face trade sanctions if it went ahead with mandatory labelling. In a September 9 letter to the Japanese Government, New Zealand echoed a similar tone on the side of the United States, Canada and Australia, citing trade issues. The Deputy Prime Minister and minister responsible for genetically modified food since March, Wyatt Creech, said the letter was sent before the Australia and New Zealand Food Authority decided in December to support labelling. That had led to a change of policy by the Government.Mr Creech said he was unaware of any campaign New Zealand had joined to put pressure on Japan. The letter carefully referred to the effect on exports of agricultural products as distinct from blanket labelling.


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