GE Free NZ, 6th June  2003

More international scientists warn against GE


The New Zealand government must listen to renewed warnings from the international scientific community about the failings of GE, and extend the moratorium on applications for commercial release. 

A panel of international scientists has released a new report (see below) showing genetically modified crops fail to produce significant reductions in pesticides and are "a disaster waiting to happen."

The panel says that GM crops are also unreliable and unstable. By far the better route would be sustainable farming based on organic principles, says the report. 

GE-Free NZ in food and environment believe this is another warning that the government must not ignore. The current pro-release policy for GE is not founded on good science and threatens New Zealand's future.

Contact Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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'GM crops unreliable and a disaster'
By Geraint Smith and Victoria Fletcher,
London Evening Standard, 3 June 2003

Genetically modified crops fail to produce significant reductions in pesticides and are "a disaster waiting to happen," a report by an international panel of scientists says today. 
The panel says that GM crops were also unreliable and unstable. By far the better route would be sustainable farming based on organic principles, says the report.

The report, compiled for the Institute of Science in Society, reviewed 200 scientific papers studying the effectiveness and use of GM crops.  It comes as the Department of Food and Rural Affairs announced a public debate on GM crops.

The report is signed by a number of notable "non-establishment" scientists including TV botanist David Bellamy.

It finds that GM crops have cost the United States an estimated 7.3billion amid "worldwide rejection". The p! anel says: "Massive crop failures of up to 100 per cent" of GM crops have been reported in India."

The report concludes that crops with genes introduced from unrelated species - and, in some cases, animals - are unstable and unreliable.  GM crops have encouraged strains of weed that are resistant to the three principal industrial weedkillers which "plague GM cotton and soya fields".

This, says the panel, had necessitated the re-use of more aggressive chemicals which "is threatening to create superweeds and resistant pests".

The scientists believe that " extensive" cross-species contamination from GM crops is unavoidable. The report quotes a range of studies that found ill effects allegedly caused by GM crops in animal subjects. 
It accuses genetic engineering of creating plant "superviruses" that could, they say, cause epidemics.

Alongside Dr Bellamy are some of Britain's best known maverick scientists including Dr Arpad Pusztai. He lost his post at the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, over his research that claimed that eating modified potatoes harmed the health of rats.

Dr Mae-Wan Ho, co-founder and Director of the Institute of Science in Society, who headed the panel and wrote the report, says: "There is a powerful case for banning GM and instead using sustainable crops.

"We have looked at the research into environmental, health and economic impacts in our work and have provided evidence to Tony Blair. The bottom line is that we believe that GM experiments should be confined to laboratories."

A spokesman for Friends of the Earth said: "We have to remember this is not only about science. It is about what consumers want and what they will buy. There is still no evidence that most Britons want to buy and eat GM foods."


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