Compulsory biosecurity screening of all imported feed is needed to ensure protection of New Zealand's GE and disease free status. The need for urgent action has been highlighted after BiosecurityNZ found viable GE seed in imported GE cotton-seed meal destined for animal feed.
The discovery of GE seed in a shipment of animal feed is also a wake-up call for leaders within Federated Farmers to end their cavalier attitude to the support of GE animal feed.
Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills has talked publicly about creating a good farming environment without regulation but with a strong emphasis on biosecurity.
"It reveals a lack of understanding over the need to protect the dangers to NZ posed by irresponsible importers who are willing to sacrifice the valuable economic export markets that our non-GE farming environment relies on." says Claire Bleakley, president of GE-free NZ in food and environment.
Yet, Mr. Wills's reliance on advice from pro-GE lobbyists such as Federated Farmers vice-president William Rolleston, is creating a warped view of the clear market demand for safe GE-free food, and letting our farmers down.
�We share the concern about the risk of any viable weed seeds entering the country, regardless of the GE content. However, over and above the biosecurity concern is the issue of brand integrity and safe food reputation," says Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-free NZ in food and environment.
"Even if GE animal feed is made unviable, the national New Zealand brand is directly threatened by the practice of importing damaging and unsustainable commodities."
The importation of unlabelled high levels of GE animal feed follows on the heels of the importation of waste from industrial palm oil production to feed New Zealand stock. GE feed and palm oil are products of deforestation and chemical monocultures that casts a shadow over dairy production.
The threat is to the actual safety of products, given the scientific evidence of serious health problems arising from animals fed GE feed, and to the safety of New Zealand food.
New Zealand must stop GE entering any part of the food chain if we are to continue to meet the quality demands of consumers and protect our unique export reputation.
"Our farmers are experts at producing safe quality food with the existing plants and forages that are available in New Zealand, GE is not needed and the mounting risks being reported are a direct threat to the environment and health of consumers and must be removed from the food chain" said Claire Bleakley .
GE-Free NZ urge those involved to prevent GE feed consignments from entering the food chain, and for Biosecurity NZ to return or destroy the material found harbouring viable GE seed.
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 348 6731