GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 6th  May 2004

Hope that New GE Vote may counter MPs' ignorance

There is hope that a new vote in Parliament to re-establish the moratorium on GE release in New Zealand will counter the ignorance amongst many MP's about the real-world effects of GE release overseas. Since the moratorium ended last October New Zealand has been left behind other countries - including Australia- and we now risk becoming the GE industry's fall-guy in the region. In recent months most Australian states have introduced moratoria to stop commercial release of GE crops, to protect their food exports, farming and tourism-industries. 

New Zealand is now being left behind, or more accurately - left at the "bleeding edge" of GM technology. Only last month a US delegation called for New Zealand to become an experimental ground for growing so-called "pharm" crops, which have already accidentally contaminated foods in the US. A report by The Economist magazine shows the newly-joined countries of the EU have strong resistance to GM foods, which is likely to make US/ NZ efforts to force GM food on Europe even harder. (Sadly New Zealand is still backing a multi-billion suit against the EU at the WTO, aimed at forcing GE foods into Europe.) 

In Canada the wheat industry is embroiled in a massive fight to oppose Monsanto's launch of GE wheat. The buyers of export, wheat accounting for 80% of Canadian wheat sales, have said they will not accept it, and instead will go elsewhere. In Britain the only company approved to plant a GE crop, despite serious scientific flaws in the approval process, have decided to pull out.

Argentina, a nation presented by Minister of the Environment Marian Hobbs as a success story after a GE release, is now suffering enormously as a result of GE soy contamination, increased chemical use, resistant weeds, and environmental destruction. The UK based Independent Science Panel has also publicised the growing scientific evidence of the dangerous genetic instability of major GM crops already on sale. 

They have repeated warnings of the potential negative effects on those who eat GE foods indicated by research in animals and recent reports of sickness amongst families living near GE crops. In Spain attempts are underway to withdraw a GE maize, already approved for release, after renewed concerns that the antibiotic-resistant marker gene used in the crop could undermine treatment of disease. 

"The question is: how many MP's know any of these facts?" says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment. "Ask most of the 120 MP's claiming to back GE release in New Zealand and you will see they are in the dark about all this. Unfortunately their ignorance could be fatal for our nations future, our environment, our exports, and our right to choose." GE Free New Zealand in food and environment will be encouraging New Zealanders to again demand MP's learn the reality of the threat. Irrespective of pressure from some quarters of the biotech industry, they must vote to bring New Zealand into line with Australian states and reintroduce a moratorium on GE release. 

The future for biotechnology in New Zealand has to be ethical, contained applications that reflect our community values, and protect our export-based economy and the environment for future generations. "New Zealanders want a country in which our food and environment is GE free," says Mr Carapiet. "Ethical contained uses, many already going on now, can benefit real science, but not the compromised science characterised by the commercial biotech industry who push for release whilst refusing to accept liability."

Contact Jon Carapiet - 09 815 3370

Back to Press Release Directory