Will GM Free be Free Traded Away?
Will losing the right to choose GM Free food be a price of the next and biggest free trade deal?
A priority for the US in the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be abolition of laws that require GM foods to be labelled. That puts New Zealand in its sights as here, use of GM ingredients in food products must generally be labelled.
Although there are exemptions such as highly refined oils and GM contamination below 1%, New Zealand food companies and supermarkets have avoided ingredients in their products that would trigger the labelling and retailers essentially do not stock products tagged as GM.
Without the labelling law, New Zealanders who want to avoid GMOs in their food would have to rely on the willingness of producers to declare such content – or a patchwork of independent testing.
Loss of the right to know when a product contains GM ingredients could quickly slide into effective loss of the right to choose everyday foods that have been formulated to avoid GMOs.
New Zealand’s regulatory regime for GM foods and GMOs in the environment has been hard won. The country’s GM free food producer status is increasingly becoming part of New Zealand’s identity, just as its nuclear free stance defines it, and there is 83% support for the regulations to remain in place.
Biotechnology industry representatives are also pressing for the US to also use the trade talks as a means of controlling TPP country positioning on GMOs in other ways, including “developing a common framework and practices for the approval of agricultural products derived from modern biotechnology”.
- GM Trojan Horses, Opinion piece, Dominion Post, 2013
- Right to Choose GM Free on the Line? Backgrounder, November 2011
- Will GM Free Be Free Traded Away? Opinion piece, New Zealand Herald 2011