GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 13th October 2003

Nation pleas for government to protect GE-free production

The tens of thousands of people taking to the street on Saturday, and the millions of others calling for the government to protect GE- free production hope the government will hear their plea. In Auckland on Saturday a massive march drew an estimated 30,000 to walk through the city asking for the moratorium on GE release to be extended.Despite the clear
evidence that is vitally important to protect GE-free production in New Zealand the government refuses to protect it by law or to extend the moratorium.From the economic case alone the law should require ERMA to protect GM-Free production systems. 

Even the recent Otago Business School Study could not hide the fact that "New Zealand should defer commercial release of GMO's" in the very industries that are the backbone of our economy. The refusal of the insurance industry to cover the damage from GE also supports the case that it is in the national interest to give legal protection to GE-free production systems. But New Zealanders also want  their human rights to be protected- including the right to avoid GE-contaminated food. 

The Royal Commission recommended the government help the food-industry introduce a "GE-Free" label so people could choose. But this is basic right is now being refused. The call by Federated Farmers for ERMA to allow 1% GE-contamination as the price of co-existence must be rejected by government. "New Zealanders are at a loss as to why the government is refusing to protect the one thing we and our overseas markets are calling for- GE-Free production", says Jon Carapiet who was a speaker at the Auckland march. 

"Protecting it is not unreasonable- it is the government's duty". Coinciding with the New Zealand marches researchers in Mexico confirmed that native maize has been contaminated by GE constructs. A legal challenge to the government’s policy to allow GE contamination thresholds is also being made to the Waitangi Tribunal. 

Contact Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370 

References below: Maize contamination in Mexico, Jon Carapiet speech Akl march

Maize Rage in Mexico GM maize contamination in Mexico - 2 years later ETC Group Genotypes 10 October 2003 www.etcgroup.org Twenty-five months after the first scientific evidence became public, the Mexican government and the scientific community have acknowledged that Mexico's traditional maize crop is contaminated with DNA from genetically modified (GM) maize despite a government prohibition on the planting of GM seeds in Mexico. Mexico is the centre of origin for maize - one of the world's most important food crops.

Yesterday, peasant farmers and indigenous communities along with civil society organizations in Mexico publicly released the results of their own testing that found GM contamination of native maize in at least nine states - far more serious and widespread than previously assumed. (1)For a detailed report of their findings see:http://www.etcgroup.org/article.asp?newsid=407
andhttp://www.etcgroup.org/article.asp?newsid=408 (The report will soon be available in English.)

Jon Carapiet - Speech for the Auckland GE-Free March. 11 October 2003

It is time the government listened to the thousands of people here, and the millions of New Zealanders calling for the GE moratorium to be extended.

Across the world people are saying NO to contamination of our environment, NO to forcing people to eat contaminated food and NO to experiments that the insurance companies refuse to cover. The British people have spoken loud and clear saying NO to GE release. Prince Charles himself has backeda GE-Free Britain. But this country has even more to lose from the direction we are being taken down.

We have a Brand image that is of unique value. Our vital exports MUST be kept GE-free.Even the Royal Commission - with all its faults- said we should preserve our opportunities. And our greatest opportunity is for GE-Free. It is unreasonable to sacrifice the one thing people all over the world are calling for. 

But the government refuse to protect GE-free production by Law. If the price for co-existence of GE is 1% GE contamination in ordinary food: that price is unreasonable. That is 1% too much, not just because it denies our basic human rights, the rights of future generations, and threatens our environment, but also because such a threshold will destroy our vital exports. 

Prevention is better than cure- especially when there is NO cure!.. when the damage is irreversible. Government Ministers like Marian Hobbs claim there will be no problems- that GE releases will not harm our exports or our image overseas. They are wrong.Even a study by Otago University - which seems to have wanted to justify the government's policy- couldn't cover up the truth. Even they had to admit - "New Zealand should defer commercial release of GMO's" in the very industries that are the backbone of our economy. 

Our major food companies - Like Sanitarium and Zespri, together with our wine-makers, and our chefs, our independent scientists, our rural women and farmers, have all warned against the harm that GE contamination will bring. The government are fooling themselves if they think the release of GE crops overseas has been a success... It's been a disaster with seed contamination widespread, customers rejecting products, and people's most basic human rights abused.We must preserve GE-free production by LAW

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