The Federation of Māori Authorities involvement in the ABIC (Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference) 2012 conference (1) featuring chemical companies like Monsanto and extreme advocates of genetic engineering in food, places a strong responsibility on tangata whenua to speak out on behalf of indigenous people everywhere, to demand urgent change from the Agbio sector.
Maori have long held values around food that are shared by people around the world. The AgBio conference in Rotorua must be told to reject unethical and extreme uses of gene science that are already occurring, and to protect the choice for organic and GE-free production for future generations.
"The AgBio industry must be told to listen to consumers and farmers and not force acceptance of GE crops and agriculture onto Maori," says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
"It is unethical to undermine standards of food purity, requiring acceptance of GE contamination, and ignoring sustainable solutions to reducing hunger and improving production."(2)
"The government's abolition of the Bio-Ethics Council has closed a space for community values to inform science and innovation, and created an ethical gap that is dangerous."
The WAI 262 claim and submissions to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification show Maori concerns for whakapapa and Mauri are significant and add to health and environmental concerns.
International bio-piracy and restrictive control of patented seeds are also a threat to food security, and the livelihoods of many populations including indigenous peoples. Monsanto's work on Terminator seeds is considered by many to be unethical, as is the inreased use of chemicals on GE crops, including those designed to be sprayed with multiple toxins such as RoundUp and 2,4-D. There have even been approaches to see if indigenous fauna can be engineered for faster growth.
In New Zealand there is also public concern that the government does not value the New Zealand clean green brand, and that a combination of commerce and science is creating an extreme agenda of experimental science-for-profit that threatens all other farming production systems and the consumer right to choose what we eat.
The existing solutions that have been underfunded for many years should be supported as they are available today and are able to out perform GE crops. New Zealand must prevent the use of genetic engineering for unethical experiments such as those causing animal suffering as well as maintaining its "zero" tolerance for GMOs in the open environment.
Science and commerce must stay within the bounds of what is acceptable and ethical, to support our clean green 100% Pure brand vision. New Zealand's organic and GM-free exports are an authentic part of the clean green New Zealand brand that must be protected.
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731 / 06 3089842