GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 20th October 2003

Call for Legal Challenge to protect GE-free production

GE Free NZ in food and environment want concerned groups across New Zealand to consider mounting a legal challenge to the government's lifting of the Moratorium following the publication of new research results on the impacts of GE crops.

It is clearer than ever that ERMA cannot legitimately consider the release of GE organisms in New Zealand when the first large scale government scientific crop trials show both ecological and environmental damage. The results confirm the experience of Canada, Argentina, and India as to the harm caused by GE. The continuing refusal of the New Zealand government to extend our moratorium shows it is being led by apologists for (and likely shareholders in) biotech corporate investment not true scientists.

The English Farm-scale evaluations (FSE's) discovered that genetically modified oil seed rape cannot be contained by separating it from fields of conventional crops, after bees carried the pollen up to 16 miles (26km) away". In the second piece of research it is shown that once GM oil seed rape has been grown in a field, it would be 16 years before a conventional crop could be grown in the same field without fear of contamination of more than 0.9%, the threshold for claiming that the crop was non-GM. Importantly such a threshold of GE contamination for New Zealand exports would be unacceptable to major markets and would demolish our exports as well as undermine basic rights of all New Zealanders.

The new studies are sufficient evidence to realise that co-existence between GE and non-GE crops will lead to contamination if GE crops are grown in the open fields. Pollen carried by bees and insects, and seed transfer from machinery and boots has been found to spread GE seed over great distances. Soil contamination is also inevitable.

Further, the EU Environment Commissioner Ms Wallstrom in a question on Biotech, the FSE report and GE said "They tried to lie to people, and they tried to force it upon people. Itís the wrong approach. You cannot force it upon Europe. So I hope they have learnt a lesson from this, especially when they try to argue that this will solve the problems of starvation in the world and so on".

The same can be said for the New Zealand's dismissal of the people's concerns and refusal to protect GE-free production systems by law.

These studies will harden the consumer resistance to being denied the right to eat GE-free foods especially in the light of trials showing adverse effects from GE crops on animals which have then be sidelined and never repeated in humans.

"We reject Marian Hobbs assertions that we need to do our own New Zealand trials as petty and short-sighted, we have the same conditions for pollination of crops. The only difference is that such trials will result in contaminating our land, our food, our plants and animals for decades and risk ruining our export trade markets'. said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment

"This will add billions to health, environment and biosecurity bill. That is why a legal challenge to plans for commercial release without any insurance cover should be considered".

That said, the legal system - including the semi-legal format for the Royal Commission on GM has shown itself to not be above corruption.

This GE issue will not go away- concerns will only become greater as results like this confirm the doubts shared by independent scientists, medical professionals and the public.

contact: Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842

References: US firms tried to lie over GM crops, says EU. Independent 14th Oct: 03  
Flaw in crop trials destroys government case for GM. Independent 12th Oct: 03
Blow to Companies as trials find bees carry Pollen up to 16 Miles from Modified crop and Contamination lasts longer. The Guardian 14th Oct: 03

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