20/05/2016

GE Crop Report details problems and solutions.

 

The report on Genetically Engineered Crops: Past Experience and Future Prospects [1] is being misrepresented as giving sweeping general approval of GE foods when it states no such thing.[2]

It is disingenuous for GE advocates to claim that a new report on GMOs by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine gives the green light to New Zealand’s use of GE grasses, and that other countries are “taking them on” [3].

The report is a detailed consideration of past problems and future solutions. It includes important caveats, highlighting inadequate animal feeding studies and the need for more comprehensive systematic safety testing using new "-omics" approaches. This has not happened for approvals of GMOs in the US or for GMO foods imported into New Zealand today.

The report says the issues are much greater than just safety testing, and governments must respect the social and cultural contexts as well as economic impacts.

"New Zealand is being sold short by leaders in Federated Farmers and by government agencies ignoring better alternatives to GE, and pushing the GMO bandwagon. The NAS report shows that herbicide-resistant weeds have become a major problem in US agriculture, and says that there has been no uplift in yields from such crops," said Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-free NZ.

The report acknowledges there are shortfalls in the safety data and recommends regulatory authorities introduce monitoring of GE crops after they have been approved for release. Under New Zealand law no such monitoring or oversight could take place as the EPA ceases to have a role after approving a commercial release.

The New Zealand government, scientists promoting GMO, [4] and the leaders of Federated Farmers must listen to the public and our customers overseas, and keep GE in the lab. Their push for GE grass is a risk to New Zealand's export reputation and carries an opportunity cost in missing the chance to differentiate New Zealand food as clean, green, and GMO-free.

Farmers should be demanding a new section in global dairy auctions for non-GMO products to benefit from the global demand for superior, safe food. Non-GMO mixed forage for dairy cattle is available now as a practical way to improve animal health, build resilience, and increase yields.

Keeping GE out of New Zealand agriculture is in the best interests of farmers and exporters will respond to the growing global demand for non-GMO foods.

GE rye grass developed by AgResearch has been at least 14 years in the laboratory, and still the grass does not meet the specs that conventional rye grass has. In this time New Zealand has successfully grown conventional rye grass with the same or superior performance in nutritional and weather tested for NZ conditions [5].

References:
[1] http://nas-sites.org/ge-crops/
[2] http://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16963-no-science-has-not-confirmed-that-gmos-are-safe-to-eat
[3] http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/gmo-crop-horror-stories-debunked/
[4] http://www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz/2016/05/18/new-technology-blurring-line-on-ge-crops-expert-reaction/
[5] http://www.germinal.nz/products/aber-high-sugar-grasses

Ends
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731

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