The emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds as a result of planting genetically engineered crops is costing farmers dearly and shows the benefits of New Zealand's GE-free status.
Scion is considering the replanting of the GE-tree experiments for pines designed to resist herbicides and change reproductive function. The growing threat of herbicide resistant weeds shows that GE herbicide resistant technology is severely damaging farmer’s income and the environment.
“It's time for a re-direction of Science and Innovation funding away from the replanting of herbicide resistant GE Trees at Scion. Targeting valuable research funding on GE organisms, that harms our environment and internationally respected clean, green, natural brand position, must stop”.
A survey of farmers by BASF has revealed damage from 'GE-weeds' has cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
The constant use of proprietary herbicides and insecticides has caused significant problems with weed resistance. GE crops now carry resistant genes to multiple herbicides (stacking). An increase of multiple herbicide tolerant crops is adding to escalating levels of toxic chemicals in food crops.
The Chemical Company, BASF surveyed farmers on the effects of GE weed resistance and found out that farmers were shocked at the negative impact of herbicide tolerant weeds on the economic performance and GE crop yields. Even one resistant weed type has a significant impact on yield reduction. BASF quoted University of Tennessee weed scientist Larry Steckel, saying
“…glyphosate-resistant weeds have had a big financial impact on Tennessee farmers – at least a $200 million effect on their bottom lines”.
New Zealand farmers are also learning from problems in the Australian market that is in its second year of commercial GE-canola cropping. This year there is a $57 price premium for GE-free Canola. To prop up the market Cargill is giving GE-canola farmers a 50% subsidy ($12 NZ) for their crop. This is the second year that GE canola has been unable to be sold on the international market and comes at the same time as court hearings begin for damage resulting from GE contamination affecting Western Australian farmer Steve Marsh.
"Even the major cosmetic companies have a policy to use GE Free ingredients so the canola cannot be sold into that market," says Claire Bleakley, from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
Government policy pushing GE is not 'picking winners', but the opposite.
Research and Development investment money would be better spent looking at developing a commercial nursery of already available species of trees that would not have the risks to the environment, human, animal or insect populations that GE herbicide resistant plants have brought overseas.
Farmers plan to update weed control management in 2012, Majority of farmers responding to BASF survey confirm glyphosate resistance http://www.basf.com/group/corporate/en/news-and-media-relations/news-releases/news-releases-usa/P-12-087
Natasha Bita, Monsanto props up weak GM crop price,
The Australian, April 23 2012
Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 3486731
Jon Carapiet 0210507681