GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 02nd  September 2004

MAF's Plans for GE thresholds Threaten NZ's Economy

Plans to start allowing GE contamination of New Zealand's agricultural sector have been delayed, but by conspiring to lower bio-security standards MAF are putting at risk New Zealand's economic wellbeing.
Radio NZ reported this morning that the proposal to allow GM corn seeds to be planted, if present at low levels, has been delayed because seed for next season will arrive before legislation could be changed.

MAF's efforts to undermine New Zealand's zero-tolerance for illegal GE release are of ongoing concern and seriously threaten livelihoods of maize farmer seeking to produce GE-free maize. Experience with soy signals that GE -free maize can and will command a premium in the global market as manufacturers seek to avoid GE crops.
MAF's plan to effectively authorise GE contamination is unwarranted and throws away the significant economic benefits to New Zealand of being a GE-free primary producer.

Plans to “allow EU standards” when these are agreed also positions New Zealand as “just another supplier of commodities” rather than the world-class producer of clean food which New Zealand must be if it is to compete in the world market.

"MAF's agenda is criminal in its irresponsibility," says Jon Carapiet from GE FREE NZ in food and environment.
"The costs of ameliorating occasional accidental contamination are insignificant compared with the economic benefits of preserving our biosecurity".

Allowing GE contamination also makes no sense scientifically as it fails to recognise the lack of testing of so-called "overseas approved" GE crops. Even worse is the emergence of Pharmaceutical crops that have already contaminated US food-crops.

" MAF need to recognise that even small levels of GE contamination could be a serious threat to public health and the environment, especially if the contamination is of a pharmaceutical variant," says Mr Carapiet.

" We are concerned MAF are ill-equipped and underfunded, and may lack the motivation to take the threat seriously.”
"It is time to look at financial instruments to promote compliance with the law as are considered in a new report looking at regulation of hazardous substances under HSNO," says Mr Carapiet.

Over recent years MAF has delayed introducing more rigorous testing of imported seeds likely to be at risk and it was only as a result of public lobbying that tests have been improved. However, they still fall short of the ideal and MAF must be held responsible for breaches of the law that happen as a result of their inadequate monitoring.

Contact Jon Carapiet 021 050 7681

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