02/03/2008

Money Wasted; Public Left in Dark Over Non-GE Way to Feed World

 


Last year traditional and non GM plant breeding methods achieved spectacular advances. The breakthrough developments produced plants with higher nutritional values, tolerance to salt and droughts, improved performance and yield production. These traditionally grown non GE- crops are currently available and offer the best options for food security.

Public funding is being wasted on GE projects that may proceed for years with no outcome. Meanwhile farmers and the public hear little about these successes as PR money continues to promote GE.

"The facts indicate public money is being wasted in New Zealand funding GE research at the cost of other practical solutions already available," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

In the last year there has been a marked increase in the rhetoric around the need for genetic engineering (GE) as the best solution to world hunger in the future. This appears to be part of a ten-year multi-million dollar publicity campaign announced some years ago by the biotechnology industry.

'GM Watch' reports non-GM solutions to challenges used to promote GE include:

- Non GE plants that have high Vitamin A levels
- Plants able to withstand drought or are salt tolerant
- Effective pest and weed control methods
- Plants that out perform GE in yields

By desperately promoting GM seeds proponents have ignored developments of the World’s seed savers and breeders who are propagating the desired traits through non-GM traditional selection methods.

In New Zealand Koanga Gardens has Heritage and traditional plants and fruit trees that are resistant to certain pests and diseases.

In Zambia in the region of Mwanawasa mixed farming and conservation farming has resulted in bumper harvests for the past three years in non-GM maize.

The University of Philippines has developed a new non-GM maize variety that is able to survive a drought for 29 days and the Indian indigenous rice is better than GM-rice at dealing with weather stress.

The Gates Foundation is giving millions to research and breeding of a non GM orange sweet potato that has high levels of beta-carotene, an essential building block of vitamin A, which helps to prevent blindness.

In Kenya the CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre), researchers using marker assisted breeding technology have found maize plants resistant to the grain borer in the Centre's germplasm bank, the maize seed was originally sourced from the Caribbean.

"Globally the tide has turned on GMO technology in food animals and plants. It is time that New Zealand’s CRI’s stopped GE experiments and move toward MAB (marker assisted breeding) trait selection and traditional breeding methods," says Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ in food and environment.
ENDS:

Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet 0210 507681

Non-GM Breakthroughs Leave GM Behind
Science in Society #37 - http://www.unobserver.com/layout5.php?id=4475&blz=1

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