GE Free NZ, 5th June  2003

Land Values threatened by GE release- Surveyors Warn

New Zealand farmers and the government are being urged to heed new warnings that land used for GE crops, and even homes situated near to GE farms, will lose value as a result of GE contamination. 

The warnings from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, published in the UK Independent newspaper, add to earlier concerns that land used for GE trials in the UK has become harder to sell.

Louis Armstrong, chief executive of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors warned "GM crops do not respect boundary lines and this is one of the biggest problems.�

"People have a right to know if their neighbors are growing GM crops as it may impact on their future land-use decisions, and ultimately the value of their property. This problem is not restricted to the countryside; people living on the outskirts of urban areas will be equally affected," Mr Armstrong said.

After large-scale field trials in the UK the evidence is growing that commercial GE release will result in unmanageable and uninsurable contamination which innocent parties will  carry the cost for.

GE Free NZ (in food and environment) are concerned that the New Zealand government through ERMA (the Environmental Risk Management Agency) is conspiring with the Life Sciences industry to allow contamination�thresholds that will impact land values, the environment and the supply of guaranteed GE-Free food.

The economic threat to New Zealand from GE contamination cannot be ignored and must be integrated into modeling such as that used by BERL, and into the ERMA economic assessment, that according to CEO Bas Walker, has not yet been developed.

� The New Organisms and Other Matters Bill now before a select committee is based on the idea of managing acceptable levels of contamination, rather than requiring ERMA to prevent it from occurring in the first place. That is fundamentally wrong,� says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

� ERMA admits that the government�s policy on GE release abandons zero-contamination, revealing that the new legislation serves the interest of the biotech industry pushing for GE releases at the expense of the wider community and the national interest,� he says.

� The Life Sciences industry and the government need to sign up to the Citizens Charter� proposed by Rural Women NZ and promise to protect GE-free production. If that means keeping the moratorium on applications for commercial release, so be it,� says Mr Carapiet.

Rural Women New Zealand president Ellen Ramsay says the organisation wants the Government to leave the moratorium in place until a robust biotechnologist strategy has been developed and accepted. 

Contact Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370


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