19/02/2011

Seed Bio-Piracy Disguised as Science

 

Bio-piracy by companies wanting to patent and control genetic material vital to the future of agriculture is being disguised as novel developments in genetic engineering.

There is strong evidence that companies are piggy-backing and claiming as their own the achievements of communities that for generations have saved seed adapted for drought, flood and pests. These seeds have preserved the genetic diversity in plants that could save the world in the future. This 'intellectual property' belongs to those communities and humanity as a whole, but it is now being used to genetically engineer plants and gain proprietary patents by a few multinational seed companies.

"Manipulating and engineering plant genes to reproduce for two generations will not address the failure to stop GE contamination because of what happens naturally -production of pollen," says Jon Carapiet from GE free NZ in food and environment. "There is pretence that because they have patented and inserted pesticide genes into the seeds the companies now have the right to contaminate the commons."

Why are businesses and Governments allowing this property-grab of seeds and sidelining of production methods already available to produce high yields, resist pests and give high quality safe foods that also protect the environment and soil ecosystems?

"There is a global benefit from traditionally bred plants that have been adapted with traits to withstand pests and climate pressures," says Jon Carapiet.

GE crops are in effect becoming repositories for toxic insecticides and herbicides that are integral to the plants and cannot be removed or washed from food. Independent studies on animals eating GE foods show there is an increase in the level of adverse effects on liver, kidney, blood, the immune system and reproductive function.

More pesticides are being used to protect the weak GE plants from insects and fungus infection, increasing the toxic load on the environment and in people's food. The plants are also not storing well after harvest, and are becoming more susceptible to fungal diseases like fusarium.

"New Zealand farmers must look to smart systems-thinking and not GE hype if we are to protect our hard earned reputation," says Jon Carapiet.

"Unless they wish to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, New Zealand farmers need to ensure our quality brand is based on safe GE-Free food production.”

ENDS

References:

Marimuthu M, Jolivet S, Ravi M, Pereira L, Davda J, Cromer L, Wang L, Nogué F, Chan S, Siddiqi I, and Mercier R (2011) Synthetic Clonal Reproduction Through Seeds Science Vol. 331 no. 6019 p. 876 DOI: 10.1126/science.1199682

Jon Carapiet 0210 507 68

Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731

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