Greenpeace volunteer Aritra Ray (right) gives Kristine Walsh a GE Free Food Guide at Harvest Wholefoods in Auckland
The majority of New Zealanders have given Genetic Engineering (GE) the big thumbs down. Remember the early 2000s, when tens of thousands of New Zealanders marched in Greenpeace-organised protests against GE testing, and this ground swell of public opinion ended up having a major impact on the 2002 election? This was a very strong display of New Zealanders' concern for both their health and the environment. And that concern still stands.
GE suffers from the genie syndrome - once out, you can't put it back. Other countries that have widely adopted GE are realising it was a dumb move - GE crops contaminate conventional and organic crops, and this contamination is very hard to reverse.
The way New Zealand law currently stands, GE ingredients can still find their way into our food chain. Which means consumers may not be aware that what they're eating contains genetically altered ingredients. Cue the latest Greenpeace GE Free Food Guide!
The eagerly awaited sixth edition of the guide is now out, allowing Kiwi consumers the chance to check the food they're eating doesn't contain GE. This issue reflects a strong ongoing non-GE position from New Zealand food companies and an unprecedented anti-GE stance from Australasia's largest food company. Late last year, Goodman Fielder (the umbrella company of such iconic brands as Edmonds, Meadow Lea and Irvines) spoke out publicly against the lifting of Australian State bans on genetically engineered food crops. This is the first time such a major industry player has stepped so publicly into the wider GE debate. Australia is the biggest source of New Zealand's canola and many other processed foods that we consume, so the moratorium and the company's stance directly impact us.
All Goodman Fielder products are now in the green section of the Greenpeace GE Free Food Guide, meaning they don't contain GE-originated plant and animal ingredients, including animal feed. Other popular food brands and companies that continue to enjoy a green categorisation include PAMs (Foodstuffs), Heinz Watties, Unilever, Tegel, Whittakers chocolate, Sanitarium and Phoenix.
One company that has descended into the red (may contain GE) category is Bluebird (due to their new ownership by PepsiCo, who lack a non-GE policy). Cadbury and Nestle also remain in the red category.
Past editions of the Guide have been used by thousands of New Zealanders as a way to avoid GE, and it remains the most popular section of the Greenpeace NZ website - www.gefreefood.org.nz
Use The Online GE Free Food Guide
Make sure your shopping is GE Free
Download the PDF version
Download and print your own hard copy of the guide to take with you when you go shopping