03/09/2013

NZ Inc at Risk from TPP deal on GMOs.

 

The threat to New Zealand producers and the public from incursion by GMOs was highlighted this weekend as part of rallies held all over the country.

Producers in New Zealand are facing a loss of control over what they grow because of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), [1] that will restrict the ability for New Zealand to set our own laws around safe food, water and environmental standards

“This means that we will have to accept a foreign mutual agreement that sets a 'lowest common denominator' for GE labelling standards for seeds and food, and that will deprive New Zealand of it's capacity to differentiate food products on the world market,," said Jon Carapiet national spokesperson for GE Free NZ.

At the moment New Zealand is exporting more than it is importing from the US, this will change if we sign the TPP. The US chief negotiator for the TPP agricultural forum, Islam Siddiqui, has strong affiliations to the Biotech lobby [2] and has pushed hard for New Zealand to drop all barriers to GE. Reports say that 37 of the US major agricultural and farming lobbies have now pledged support for the TPP as long as the 12 countries eliminate tariffs and there are no barriers to any agricultural product. [3]

“If GE crops are forced on the country in a no-holds-barred deal, our exporters will not be able to preserve their point of difference in the market. Any loss of choice for a GE Free environment will cause significant threats to our health and economic livelihoods and further collapse our vision for a sustainable New Zealand," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ.

The weekend public rally in Wellington was attended by many groups opposing aspects of the loss of our rights as New Zealanders. One group of Columbian people told the rally about the serious problems they are facing after the unwanted introduction of GE foods into Columbia, forced on them under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). [4]

Similar warnings for New Zealand producers have come from Argentina which has reported a rise in GE soya that is aerially sprayed with a cocktail of herbicides, glyphosate and glufosinate (RoundUp and Busta), causing massive congenital damage to the communities who live, eat and breath the air surrounding the GE crops. [5]

“The serious harm from growing and consuming GM crops and the pesticides associated with them is becoming a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Claire. “New Zealand must seek to protect and promote its valuable GE Free status by clearly removing GE from the TTP negotiations."

The latest analysis made by the McGuiness Institute [6] highlights the cross roads we have reached and the harm arising from New Zealand losing autonomy on regulation around GE.

There is now compelling evidence supported by the Institute's findings, of a global marketing opportunity and need for longterm risk management, that together warrant declaring New Zealand a dedicated GMO-Free agricultural nation.

Giving in at the TPP negotiations to a lowest common denominator approach on GMOs will take us down the disastrous path that the US has followed. This is not an option for a food exporting nation wanting to leverage our reputation for safe, high quality food that commands a premium and will appeal to customers around the world.

References:

[1] The Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Issues for Congress

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R42694.pdf

[2] Islan A. Siddiqui, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_A._Siddiqui

[3] Breakthrough On US Market Access Staff Reporter by Nigel Stirling, New Zealand Farmers Weekly

[4] Columbian speakers at Wellington Rally 1/8/2013 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151705085058557&set=o.359292997530222&type=3

[5] Pesticide illness triggers anti-GMO movement in Argentina http://agrinindia.blogspot.co.nz/2013/08/pesticide-illness-triggers-anti-gmo.html

[6] McGuinness, Wendy, and Mokena-Lodge, Renata, ‘An Overview of Genetic Modification in New Zealand, 1973–2013: The first forty years’, McGuinness Institute, Wellington, 29 August 2 013 http://mcguinnessinstitute.org/includes/download.aspx?ID=130247

Ends

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 3486731

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