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BSE beef: health, safety and consumer awareness should trump trade agenda

The ban on importing beef from BSE-affected countries into Australia should not be lifted as planned next week, the Australian Greens said today.

The ban, in place since 2001, is important to protect Australian public health. Australia has a no risk approach which is now to be replaced with a calculated risk.

"The Rudd government has tried to keep this quiet because they know full well that the Australian community does not want to eat beef from BSE affected countries.

"Australians are being asked to take a risk to further a trade agenda that is disconnected from reality," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne said.

"Australians deserve to know what they are eating, where it has come from and how it was produced - currently labelling laws fudge the issues.

"Just like the WTO-driven pushes to import Canadian salmon, bananas from the Philippines and New Zealand apples, Australia's clean reputation is being jeopardised because of Australia's obsession with free trade rules.

Senator Milne moved for a Senate Inquiry into the lifting of the ban in October 2009.

"Consumers will be particularly concerned that, thanks to our utterly inadequate food labelling laws, they will have no way of telling whether or not the meat they buy is from BSE-free countries.

"The Greens have long believed that we should promote and protect clean, green Australian produce, and protect public health.

"The free trade agenda must not be allowed to put public health and clean markets at risk.

"The ban on beef imports from BSE affected countries should not be lifted."

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