The call by a visiting speaker, Pamela Ronald, for GE to be embraced by the organic sector and create �precision technology -co-existence� farming is a misguided public relations exercise. GE remains an unacceptable experimental and invasive technology that removes choice from consumers wanting to buy uncontaminated food.
The presentation focused on the Organic growers using GE seeds saying that those who did not want GE pollution must also ensure that they managed the buffer zones as they would carry the liability for any GE contamination.
�Ronald's speech was misleading and confusing. She played to the ignorance of the uninformed and chose to ignore the difference between plant traditional breeding methods and synthetic laboratory genetic engineered technology� says Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ. �If Scientists are to educate the public they must not treat us as fools and accurately present the facts�.
Ronald advocated that GE should be spread into all agricultural systems. It represents a threat to the integrity of food chain at a time when food safety and production are already under strain.
There were glimpses of how genetic technologies such as Marker Assisted Breeding could be used to the benefit of speeding up selection of wanted traits.
The example Ronald spoke about was flood tolerant rice that is now commercially available. This rice has been traditionally bred and is non-GE. The International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines has crossed a flood resistant small grain rice variety with a known high yield variety, selection of the new seed crosses containing the high yield and flood tolerant traits were selected using Marker Assisted Breeding technology.
"New Zealand can benefit in the long run by having a world-class clean, safe and naturally diverse production system, says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
"We have to be the gold standard and there is no place for the problems that GE has brought overseas."
The proposal to integrate GE into an existing long-term proven agricultural approach comes on the news that Bayer has been fined over 136 million dollars after its GE rice contaminated the US supply causing the entire rice industry 'tremendous harm'.
"The claimed benefits are a ruse by the GE industry," says Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ. "Look at the evidence that after fifteen years of farming the GE crops have not increased yields compared to conventional traditionally bred counterparts."
"Insects have developed resistance to sprays, and soils are now being found to harbour the toxic GE exudates with impact on crop germination and the uptake of nutrients. Animals fed on the GE crops are suffering miscarriages and sterility or false pregnancies."
Existing approaches to reduce methane emissions and improve yields are the way for New Zealand to progress sustainably. Agro-ecology and organic farming are able to deliver food sustainably and double production in the developing world in ten years, according to the UN Report.
"Organic production embodies values and principles that meet the global trend in ethical consumerism" says Jon Carapiet. "It is free of synthetic chemicals and GE, and has animal welfare standards. This is why it is so popular with consumers."
The integrity of the food chain is at risk if GE is forced onto Organic sector. It is important for global food security that organic standards exclude GE so that the whole food supply isn't made directly vulnerable to the catastrophic technology failure.
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 348 6731
Report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter (2011) http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/officialreports/20110308_a-hrc-16-49_agroecology_en.pdf
Non-GM Breakthroughs Leave GM Behind
Science in Society #37 - http://www.unobserver.com/layout5.php?id=4475&blz=1
Money Wasted; Public Left in Dark Over Non-GE Way to Feed World http://press.gefree.org.nz/press/20080302.htm