A US court decision backing Monsanto against farmers disputing contamination by patented GE seed could impact the rights of New Zealand farmers.
U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald dismissed the complaint by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, and found that the spread of Monsanto genetically modified seed into the organic growers' fields did not constitute harm.
Following the Court decision there are real concerns that organic producers in New Zealand could be forced to accept GE contamination or face legal action from overseas companies claiming food purity standards are a barrier to free trade.
“The court decision has huge implications for farmers if the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement exposes all trade-partners to the same minimum standards,” says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
“The US court decision can be appealed, but even so, it is a warning that New Zealand exporters of organic and high-quality food products are at risk from enforced reduction in standards as a result of free-trade negotiations.
Like other aspects of the trade negotiations, TPPA clauses on GE contamination and food safety standards are still secret. However, the precedent of forced contamination in organics has been set in the US court decision.
The US court victory for Monsanto is one issue of a range of concerns that trade deals will undermine food safety standards. The approval of food sprayed with 2,4,D is one example where US officials admit no proper safety data has ever been considered.
There is a real risk to New Zealand's reputation for food safety and the economic benefits it gives us, from trade agreements where corporate lobbying weaken food safety and other quality standards. Trade negotiations must not destroy our exporters' ability to differentiate New Zealand in the market, including 100% Pure New Zealand organics.
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
1) Federal Court Dismisses Lawsuit by Organic Growers Against Monsanto