GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 9th October 2003

Insurance refused for Government's Irresponsible GE Gamble

The government will be harming the national interest by exposing the country to GE releases that Insurance firms say they will not cover.

Insurance companies are comparing the risks of GE crops to Thalidomide and it is astonishing that the government should allow the GE moratorium to lapse when the warning signals of impending harm are so clear.

New research published by The Russian Nutrition Institute has confirmed the findings of the UK FSA, Dr Arpad Pusztai, Dr Stanley Ewen -and Monsanto itself - about the dangers posed by GE foods on animals and humans as a result of genetic engineering techniques.

GE organisms once released will continue to affect future generations because they can never be withdrawn. Starlink corn, not intended for human food because of concerns over its allergenic effects inadvertently contaminated the American food chain. It is still showing up in corn products years later. The costs of this accident alone are estimated at over US$1 billion.

Prodigene spent millions of dollars in 2002 cleaning up an "accidental" GE contamination of food crops by GE plants producing pharmaceuticals. Despite growing alarm in the US food industry, moves to prevent planting Pharm-crops near food crops have been rejected by the biotech lobby.

Newly revealed results from the English GE field-trials (2003) show that there are detrimental effects on insect and soil life. New Zealand scientists have warned of similar long-term risks to our soils.

Despite the spin from Marian Hobbs it is clear that co-existence in Canada, Argentina, India and America has not worked. The New Zealand government is intentionally destroying GE-free production with its refusal to give legal protection for its preservation. Government ministers have refused to make such protection a requirement of ERMA.

Federated Farmers told the Horowhenua District Council that for co-existence non-GE and Organic farmers would have to accept a tolerance level of 1% or more. Yet Marian Hobbs has promised that Organic farmers and Consumers will be guaranteed GE Free produce.

Is this promise an attempt to deceive the public into believing that GE-free food will be protected when there is no such intention? 

Or does it mean that Marian Hobbs accepts that the moratorium should stay because of the experience of all countries that have commercially released GE, namely that it results in contamination of seed.

"The problem with the situation is the present Ministers pushing irresponsible policies will eventually disappear, but the effects of GE will not" says Claire Bleakley from GE Free NZ in food and environment. 

"The GE-Free struggle has only just begun. The fact that insurance is being refused reveals just how irresponsible the government is being, despite its claims of caution.

"By ignoring the public, professional insurance experts, economists and scientists in order to serve vested interests in the biotech industry, the government is leaving local councils, farmers, and ordinary New Zealanders to protect the national interest."

Contact Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842

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