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GE foods make comeback in New Zealand

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The GE-free movement was one of the great activist successes in New Zealand history. In 1999, 20,000 people marched down Queen Street, calling for a ban on genetically engineered crops. The movement was broad-based. In polls, over 70 percent of New Zealanders have supported keeping genetically modified organisms (GMOs) out of the country. The protestors’ side won.

But while GE-free status confers respect on New Zealand products overseas, many New Zealanders remain unaware that genetically modified food imports have crept onto supermarket shelves here at home. New Zealand now imports large quantities of food ingredients from GMO-dominated countries. Corn, soy, canola and cottonseed are the main ones, accounting for 99 percent of GMO crops worldwide. These crops tend to become filler ingredients in processed foods. Under current law, refined products such as canola oil and corn syrup do not have to be labelled with their GE status.

Decisions about genetically modified foods eaten in New Zealand are rarely made on Kiwi soil. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), based in Canberra, assesses GE foods for both countries. New Zealand does not have an equal voice in this process. FSANZ’s 12-member board contains nine Australians. In the final approval, New Zealand has one vote, while each Australian state gets one vote.

Read the full, original article: Genetic engineering debate rises again

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