12/08/2010

Co-Existence with GE Plants Proves Impossible

 

The discovery that GE canola is thriving in the wilds of America and has become a common weed in South Dakota, shows that GE proponents and regulators have been deluding themselves and the public by claiming modified genes would not survive in wild populations due to selective pressures.

The findings that GE canola has spread to become a common weed was reported this week in Nature magazine, and proves that co-existence is not a feasible or economic option for farmers seeking to avoid GE and wanting to export to high-value consumer markets.

Containment of GE pollen in the outdoors is a myth and plans to release GE plants in New Zealand will have dangers for the future of sustainable agriculture. The evidence is clear that New Zealand cannot afford to carry on tinkering at the edges of GE research in the open field without putting at risk our export-based economy.

New Zealand research has already identified non- GE plants that can place us at the cutting edge of sustainable production. Grasses with valuable agronomic traits, and forage plants that provide an increase in milk-yield as well as reduction in methane are waiting to be adopted to enable New Zealand to produce sustainable, clean, and high quality, GE-Free food.

The ongoing threat to New Zealand's future is evidenced by the forced closure of GE plant trials due to sloppy research management and poor performance by the Crown Research Institutes (CRI). GE cannot co-exist with other farming systems and in light of the experiences with GE plants overseas, AgResearch's proposal for extensive GE indoor development of forage and grass plants, and Scion's pre-application for trials of GE trees, must be stopped.

Analysis of the last 13 years of GE production has shown GE plants have average yield-loss, increase the need for fertiliser and water, degrade the soil, and generate herbicide resistance in weeds as well as resistance in pest insects. This has resulted in increased pesticide use and GE wilding plants becoming a common phenomenon.

"There is outdated and inaccurate information being provided by our regulators ERMA (The Environmental Risk Management Authority) and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF)," says Claire Bleakely, from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

"In conjunction with Life Sciences lobbyists they continue to promote co-existence when it is now shown to be impossible. New Zealand's biggest seed exporter in brassica species relies on a GE Free production system, that misleading theories around co-existence threatens to destroy. New Zealand cannot afford this pro-GE bias to be continued by the new Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)."

"It is farmers not scientists who are the experts in reproduction of domestic plants and animals that will meet the demands of consumers around the world.The voice of the farming community and the values inherant in Brand New Zealand must be protected.The extremes of gene technology must be moderated to maintain the integrity of the production system and of the New Zealand brand."

Why is it that government and some CRI scientists continue to deliberately ignore the fact that Organic systems can provide safe food for everyone, in ways that are sustainable and reduce use of toxic pesticides?

New Zealand farmers are being betrayed by the push for novel technologies that turn a blind eye to existing and proven sustainable solutions to the challenges they face.
ENDS:
Claire Bleakley 06 -3089842 / 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet - 0210507681

References:

GM crop escapes into the American wild. Published online 6 August 2010, Nature| doi:10.1038/news.2010.393
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100806/full/news.2010.393.html

GMD09017 AgResearch indoor application.

Charles Benbrook, Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years, 2009.

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