07/02/2011

Farmers Kept in Dark about Non-GE crop innovation.

 

New Zealand farmers are being kept in the dark about traditionally bred non GE crops in commercial production that are proven to reduce methane emissions, are pest resistant, drought, salt and flood tolerant. Instead New Zealand farmers are being asked to wait decades for a GE magic bullet.

Crop innovations are being ignored and sidelined with promises of a magic-bullet GE crop. Instead of using a variety of legumes for their pasture seed mix which has proven benefits, public money is being misused in trying to genetically engineer one legume variety to carry the whole genetics of every legume. This is short sighted and doomed to fail.

New Zealand is in a unique position and cannot afford to ignore proven solutions. Recent research found that traditionally bred legume Birdsfoot trefoil grown as part of the pasture seed reduced methane by 32%, increased milk solids and the boosted the nutritional levels of Omega 3 and LactoFerrin in the milk, when compared to ryegrass pasture.

"There are proven legumes for forage pastures as well as new cultivars of Rye grass being used successfully in New Zealand," says Jon Carapiet spokesman for GE-Free NZ. ”These are proven solutions that are conventionally bred and producing high quality feed for animals. So why are they being sidelined for GE research?”

New Zealand should take heed of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (www.cimmyt.org) research on trait selection and traditional breeding. The Centre has worked on selective traditional plant breeding programmes which has led to improved maize and wheat varieties, preserved genetic resources and developed new cultivars over the last 20 years. The non –GE plant varieties are expanding the options to help farmers cope with drought conditions and diseases and have been able to substantially boost yields.

It is these conventionally bred high yield plants that are being genetically engineered with proprietary pesticides genes. GE plants are becoming more susceptible to fungal disease, increased weed resistance to herbicides causing rising pesticide use, toxic ecosystem effects and poor performance in follow on crops.

The public have been told that the only way to gain future crop improvements is down the GE path. This is blatantly false and misleading as the published literature shows.

“New Zealand science must fit the New Zealand Brand. There is no place for GE if we are to maximize the value of our clean green reputation and not blow it," says Jon Carapiet.

New Zealand has a reputation to protect. We hope Scion, AgResearch, Plant and Food and the new owners of PGG Wrightsons, maintain standards for purity and excellence in seed production focused on traditionally bred selected plant cultivars that benefit the farmers of New Zealand.

References:

Turner S-A, Waghorn GC, Woodward SL, Thomson NA Condensed tannins in birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) affect the detailed composition of milk from dairy cows Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 65, pp 283-289, Jan 2005

Woodward SL, Waghorn GC, Laboyrie PG Condensed tannins in birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) reduce methane emissions from dairy cows, Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 64, pp 160-164, Jan 2004

La Rovere, R., G. Kostandini, T. Abdoulaye, J. Dixon, W. Mwangi, Z. Guo, and

M. Bänziger. 2010. Potential impact of investments in drought tolerant maize in Africa. CIMMYT, Addis Ababa , Ethiopia . ISBN: 978-92-9059-267-9

"Drought-Hardy Soybean Lines Show Their Stamina" November/December 2008, Agricultural Research magazine. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/nov08/soybean1108.htm

All eyes on PGG Wrightson takeover 4 February 2011 http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1102/S00116/all-eyes-on-pgg-wrightson-takeover.htm

Need GM? http://bit.ly/dIua50

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 3486731

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