31/03/2016

NZ Farmers Need Protection Against Damaging Agribusiness

 

The New Zealand Government must establish a mechanism to protect farmers against legislative changes or agribusiness partnerships that threaten the non-GE status of New Zealand's agricultural sectors.

The shared value of New Zealand's reputation must not be threatened by field trials conducted with genetically engineered crops, as has occurred in the past.

Ten years ago, Crop and Food, now Plant and Food, in conjunction with Seminis/Monsanto made an application to ERMA to field trial five species of genetically engineered onions for tolerance to the glyphosate-based herbicide RoundUp. [1]
The outcome was a dismal crop which suffered from aphids and poor storage time, and the trial was closed down after 3 years. Another secret GE trial, for brassicas, was poorly run and had to be closed down due to a breach that threatened to contaminate the surrounding countryside.

The claims made by applicants to justify such GE crops have also proved deceptive and illusory. Instead of herbicide-resistant GE crops reducing glyphosate use on RoundUp-resistant GE canola, soy, and corn, there is an increase in toxic chemicals used where they are grown overseas.

The UN has declared that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen”. Research has documented its deleterious effects to organs, and disruption of reproductive hormones leading to tumour development in test animals [2].

Since genetically engineered “Roundup Ready” crops were introduced in the US in 1996, the agricultural application of glyphosate-based herbicides has risen 300-fold. There are 118 million acres of resistant weeds threatening farmers’ incomes and the environment. An estimated one billion kgs has been sprayed in the last ten years [2] mostly to combat this emerging weed resistance.

In Australia where GE canola has been introduced, the quality of the oil is poor and the Market Check figures show GE on a downturn. Early indications show that in 2016 WA farmers growing non-GE canola achieve a premium of $50-78 NZD per tonne over GE canola.

"The economic problems now being faced by dairy farmers must not be made worse by misguided support for GE plants or animals release into the New Zealand environment. New Zealand’s GE-Free status must be protected, or farmers, consumers, and exporters will pay an unacceptably high price”, said Jon Carapiet spokesperson for GE Free NZ.

References:

[1] GE breaches http://www.gefree.org.nz/ge-breaches/

[2] Séralini, G., Clair, E., Mesnage, R., Gress, S., Defarge, N., & Malatesta, M. et al. (2014). Republished study: long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerantgenetically modified maize. Environ Sci Eur, 26(1).

[3] Benbrook, C. (2016.)Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally. Environ Sci Eur, 28(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12302-016-0070-0

[4] https://marketcheck.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Canola-Strategy-Special-Oct-15-002.pdf

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842

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