Federated Farmers spokesman Graham Smith's call for a 'rethink' on release of GeneticallyEngineered organisms is misguided, and instead it is time for a formal moratorium on GMOs in the environment.(1)
In his speech at the 'Future Farming' conference yesterday, Mr Smith wrongly claimed New Zealand legislation was preventing use of GE techniques that had been recently developed, when the reality is that those techniques are subject to oversight by the EPA but have not been banned.(2)
However, for the opposite reasons given by Mr Smith to delegates at the conference, he is right to call for a national rethink on GE rules.
The last ten years of GE use overseas has provided evidence of detrimental impacts from GE crops that New Zealand has been able to avoid, and points to the need to adopt much better consumer-acceptable and environmentally smart solutions.(3)
There is growing scientific evidence over the last decade, that GE release overseas was a mistake on many levels; at best premature, and in many cases hugely detrimental to farmers and the environment.
Epigenetic and long term detrimental effects of Generic Engineering have become better understood, and warrant New Zealand restoring an indefinite moratorium on commercial release.
A moratorium on GE releases was the recommendation of an independent study by The McGuinness Institute looking at GM in New Zealand. Similarly, problems with the techniques of GE that have become better understood over the last decade prompted the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) for The Supreme Court of India to recommend an indefinite moratorium on any new GE release in India. (4)
Rather than dreams of a “GE magic bullet for pastures”, Federated Farmers should be getting behind the benefits of systems-thinking such as the mixed forage demonstrated in DairyNZ-funded research at Massey University, and Marker Assisted Breeding (MAB) that has benefitted animal genetics and allowed New Zealand sheep and cattle to advance while remaining GE-free.(5)
“Members of Federated Farmers need to ask hard questions to understand on whose behalf their leadership is advocating GE release, rather than advocating for a moratorium to benefit Brand New Zealand and all farmers,” says Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
“Our GE-Free status is a huge benefit to farmers and exporters and is a powerful marketing point of difference which consumers take as a signal of food safety. GE-free adds value and is a key part of lifting New Zealand products above commodity-status, which Fonterra and other food exporters are seeking.”
“By ignoring what consumers in New Zealand and around the world are wanting, Federated Farmers are making a grave mistake,” says Mr. Carapiet.(6)
Federated Farmer's recently-elected president- Dr William Rolleston, has been advocating for New Zealand to follow the lead of Argentina, where GMOs have become widespread. However Argentina's experience of contamination, growing herbicide use and economic collapse represents exactly what New Zealand should not be doing, and what our producers have been extremely fortunate to avoid.(7)
2) Sustainability Council of New Zealand – High Court Ruling a Win for NZ Food Inc
3) Failure to Yield http://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/failure-to-yield.pdf
Pesticide illness triggers anti-Monsanto protest in Argentina http://www.dw.de/pesticide-illness-triggers-anti-monsanto-protest-in-argentina/a-17013525
Hazardous Virus Gene Discovered in GM Crops after 20 Years
Food Security and Food production Systems http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/images/uploads/WGIIAR5-Chap7_FGDall.pdf
4) An Overview of Genetic Modification in New Zealand 1973-2013: The first forty years http://mcguinnessinstitute.org/Site/Publications/Project_Reports.aspx
Indefinite moratorium on GM field trials recommended in India
The three year mixed pasture trial was established to determine whether mixed pasture could increase milk solids production and improve nitrogen efficiency. Cows fed on mixed pasture excreted half the amount of nitrogen (N) in their urine compared to cows on standard pasture. Cows on the mixed pasture ate less but were more efficient with an overall increase in milk protein concentration. There were advantages in feed availability in summer and autumn from the mixed pastures, especially during the recent drought.
6) Non-GMO Foods Are in Industry Spotlight, According to Latest Packaged Facts Report
Jon Carapiet – National spokesman – 0210507681
Claire Bleakley – President – 027 3486731