New Zealand has launched a formal objection to attempts by the Australian parliament to alter trans-Tasman food safety rules and effectively block the input of New Zealand in establishing standards.

The food safety standard are set by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) and govern package labelling and content, and genetically modified foodstuffs. They are still subject to approval from a council of health ministers from the state, federal and New Zealand governments, however.

The Howard government amended legislation last week in order to give Australia the right to overrule the decisions of the council.

Bob Brown, Green Party senator in Australia, revealed that pressure from big businesses was behind the legislative changes, which would give them a greater say in setting food safety standards.