Delegates to AgBio 2012 in Rotorua are being urged to reject the extremes of commercialised science and navigate the middle path for non-GE biotechnology in New Zealand.
Although Agri-businesses promotes their vision of a second green revolution they have in reality increased herbicide and insecticide resistance, restricted access to seed and reduced choice of farming systems. People worldwide demand progress that serves the wider interests of society and that protects communities from the extremes of Corporate control of the food chain 'from seed to plate'.
From Terminator seeds in the developing world (1) to cruel animal experiments where dairy calves died due to the rupture of oversized ovaries (2), genetic engineering raises ethical issues that cannot be decided by big business or vested interests within government agencies (3).
As well as active harm to people and the environment from increased use of chemicals on GE crops (4), ethical issues are raised by inaction to adopt genuine improvements for sustainable agriculture, which are available now.
"It is time to restore the Bio-ethics Council and to respect the values of tangata whenua and New Zealand's diverse ethnic communities who want GE-free food. Without such external advice the government and businesses pushing biotechnology have had no moral compass," says Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-free NZ in food and environment.
For New Zealand, the lack of policy to adopt established pasture gains that improve animal output and reduce methane emissions is ethically unsound. A systems-approach to farming can solve the problem that GE rye-grass is being claimed to address.
Contrary to claims made by companies pushing their GE products, there are alternatives already identified that can double food production in the developing world (5).
Why are solutions to poverty and starvation not being applied?
Trade agreements like the TPPA threaten even greater exploitation of communities around the world, including indigenous peoples. New Zealand must adopt an ethical stance to oppose these, and recognise that agri- 'business as usual' has become a global threat to food security and community wellbeing.
New Zealand's economy will be harmed if we fail to maximise the opportunity of our brand with tourism, world-class GE-free organic and high-value conventional food, wine and natural nutraceutical products.
Agri-businesses use of Terminator seeds, control of patented life and increased use of pesticide-laden GE crops fail the moral and ethical test for sustainability of living systems.
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731