"Public Should Be Paid" For Challenging Misleading Scientists
GE Free (NZ (in food and environment) believes that overseas investors may benefit more than New Zealanders from GE field trials and believes ERMA should pay community groups for making submissions on the application to field-test Bt Brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli and forage rape) GMF06001.
There are concerns that New Zealand is being exploited by foreign biotechnology companies who may be set to be the biggest beneficiaries from this GE trial. Far from being of benefit, the environmental risk and opportunity-cost is at the expense of New Zealand investing in sustainable agriculture and research.
"The application is so lacking in economic sense, and scientific data(1), that the resources of public- interest groups are being misused to fill the knowledge gap," says Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ ( in food and environment).
Claims by the scientists applying to field-trial Bt crops that there have not been problems with Bt crops overseas (2) are misleading and add to concerns that the application should never have been accepted by ERMA.
The application by Crop & Food is to field test Bt brassica made resistant to diamond back moth and cabbage white butterfly, but this makes little economic sense for New Zealand growers. Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are well controlled with safe Bt sprays, and have been for the last 30 years of organic production.
"Either this application is a misuse of taxpayer funding, or an abuse of our environment in the interests of overseas companies who might fund the research. The purposeless ten year project will cost millions of dollars and lead to products that will cause contamination and insect-resistance problems in New Zealand."
"The application indicates that the trial involves removing caterpillers, relocating older plants, and use of many sprays. " says Claire Bleakely. "With this regime it would be difficult to see how resistance, health or environment effects will be tested for in any useful way. The trial looks less like good science and more like a cover for a seed multiplication business possibly for overseas investors"
"The ERMA process has failed by allowing this application to proceed to notification, as usual just before Christmas . Many members of the public will lose any remaining confidence in ERMA unless the notification is to withdraw".
Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842 mob: 027 348 6731
1. This application shows the sorry state of New Zealand science. Bt has been found to affect soil ecosystems and stay toxic in the soil for up to 140 days or 4 1/2 months (1b). 100 fold resistance after a 5 generations in insects with no refuge (1a). Observation of immune system effects, skin and respiratory allergies have been recorded in Countries that have people living near Bt crops or have handled the plants (1c). In 2004 a large report was published on sheep that died after grazing post harvest fields of Bt cotton (1d). (see previous press releases www.gefree.org.nz)
1a. Cerda. H, Sayyed.AH and Wright DJ, (2006) Diamond back moth resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis transgenic canola: evaluation of refugia size with non-resessive insects. J. Applied Entomology, 130(8), 421-425.
1b. Palm C; Schaller D; Donegan K; Seidler R (1996) Persistence in soil of Transgenic plant produced Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki delta endotoxin. Canadian J. of Microbiology 42(12), 1258 -1262.
1c. Impact of Bt Cotton on Farmers Health investigation report Oct-Dec 2005
1d. Report of the Preliminary Assessment, Mortality in Sheep Flocks after grazing on Bt Cotton fields � Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh, released April, 2006, http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6494
ISIS Press Release 03/05/06, Mass Deaths in Sheep Grazing on Bt Cotton http://www.i-sis.org.uk/MDSGBTC.php
2. National Radio interview with applicants, RNZ
3. Application GMF 06001 www.ermanz.govt.nz