The ERMA decision on GMF06002 gives Crop and Food a 10 year approval. This is highly concerning given the failure of the previous field test which was de-commissioned in May this year.
The decision by ERMA allows the field-testing of a range GE genetically engineered allium, onion, garlic, and leek species with herbicide, insecticide, reproductive genes and other traits. The Onions will be allowed to flower in pollen cages in the fields. They have also given permission to allow the trial GE seed to be exported or imported around the World.
Notwithstanding the threat to the environment from accidental contamination, and the threat to New Zealand's export-businesses from yet more GE crop trials, the approval is characterised by a shoddy approach to scientific research. There is an astonishing lack of data - and lack of interest in publishing such data - to assess the reasons for the previous failures, and to understand the potential toxicity of the plants before millions more are spent on the experiments.
"It appears that ERMA just rubber stamps risky GE experiments with unknown traits not even bothering to understand why they are all failing." says Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in Food and Environment
There is no documentation of experimental procedures or safety testing of these foods. Rather, it is 'cowboy' science that is driven by profit at any cost to sound research and the precautionary approach to commercialising GE crops.
This cowboy approach could signal that New Zealand is being used to grow crops for overseas partners and that there will be no recompense to New Zealand for the loss of our clean green image or damage to the environment.
"ERMA is socialising risk and appearing not to care.It has become profoundly unethical in its approach to supporting commercial ventures at the public expense. It has never turned down a notified application to field test," says Claire Bleakely.
As we have seen from the devastating flash floods in the Lincoln Region, the weather does not recognise boundaries. As these trials are in secret locations and the stringency of MAF in their inspections of facilities leaves much to be desired, this approval is tantamount to an invitation for contamination of agricultural land surrounding Canterbury.
It is also of concern that ERMA extended its deliberations for a further 3 months whilst awaiting for information. At the same time the CEO of cash-strapped Crop and Food Research was appointed to the management board of FRST (Foundation for Research Science and Technology) a governmental statutory body administering funding.
GE Free NZ is highly concerned that this is not 'public good' science, but precisely the opposite. There is a strong possibility that as with the 3000 GE sheep (eventually destroyed), and the last GE onion failure, New Zealand will be left with yet another risky contaminated GE site for the tax payer to clean up. Much worse, economic disaster will result if there is an escape of pollen to the outside environment.
New Zealand export markets are relying on sustainable practices and safe healthy food production. The agricultural sector cannot bear the tarnish of GE when their exports rely on the provision of clean green agricultural practices.
"We cannot afford to loose our export reputation and damage our NZ brand name in this time of economic recession, it is a disaster for New Zealand to be putting its research into a field of technology that is not performing and is a direct threat to our export markets". says Claire Bleakely "GE Free food production in New Zealand gives us a market advantage. Yet again ERMA has let New Zealand farmers and consumers down by placing another poison arrow into a GE bow that is aiming against us."
Claire Bleakley: (06) 3089842 / 027 348 6731.
ERMA decision on GMF06002