Ten years after New Zealand's GM moratorium automatically ended in October 2003, a new study shows it is time for the moratorium to be restored and for a strategy to benefit New Zealand's economy as a GM-Free producer in the world market.
A new report from independent think tank The McGuiness Institute examined four decades of genetic engineering in New Zealand and says that despite millions of dollars invested in GM experiments, there was little benefit and significant economic risk. (1)
The report says the government needs to buy time against GMO releases and that protecting the value of New Zealand's status as producer of safe, high quality food is of national strategic importance.
There is also a warning that New Zealand has gone backwards in terms of regulatory systems and strategic planning. This is as a result of the loss of safeguards established after the Royal Commission on GM, including the abolition of the Bio Ethics Council, the termination of the MORST Futurewatch programme, and the failure to update the national biotechnology strategy since 2003.
"A decade of GM crops in the US is an unfolding disaster, and New Zealand has been fortunate to avoid the problems of GMOs overseas," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE Free NZ in food and environment.
The grave risk now is that New Zealand will be prevented from differentiating our products in the world market, and will be forced to allow GM contamination under the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.
"Under the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement an onslaught of unwanted agricultural goods allowed under mutual recognition agreements, could include unwanted GE ingredients and milk from cows injected with GE hormone," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ. (2)
"The TPPA threat comes as the government plans to change the Resource Management Act to stop local authorities responding to community and exporter concerns that GM-free agriculture must be protected."
The McGuiness Insitute report is a warning to producers, exporters and government that New Zealand must not be denied the advantages to our future economy of our GM-free food production system. We must defend that advantage and learn the lesson of the recent Fonterra milk contamination scare to protect the long-term integrity and safety of our food production.
Major New Zealand food producers like Fonterra are being warned by independent scientists to avoid the risks of imported GM feed in milk production, and for poultry and pigs. There is evidence of tumour growth and infertility in animal tests of GM feed, and there are concerns that a new microorganism is thriving on herbicide-resistant GM crops.(3,4)
The McGuiness Insitute says that the most risk averse policy would be to shut down field trials currently being allowed for GM cattle and goats and plantations of GE pine trees.In the decade since the Royal Commission on GM there has been significant growth in global consumer rejection of GM food and in the demand for safe, clean, GM-free food.(5)
New Zealand is uniquely placed to meet that demand, and must not allow GM contamination to sabotage the country's future export potential and environment.
Jon Carapiet - National spokesman 0210507681
Claire Bleakley - President GE-Free 06 3089842 / 0273486731
4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MoAN9cILh8 (Preview) (Preview)