GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 23rd March 2006

NZ's Billion-dollar Reputation at Risk for Backing Terminator

New Zealand's international trading image is fundamentally at risk because of Government support for Terminator technology and Ministerial ignorance of the reasons for most of the world backing a moratorium or ban on Terminator seeds.

Spurious arguments from the New Zealand's Minister of the Environment that the global moratorium will prevent control of possums, has have been picked up internationally as a sign of this country being out of touch with the world community.(*see below).

"The 'Brand- reputation' of New Zealand has real value to our exports and trading, but we have to be good citizens of the world" says Jon Carapiet, spokesperson for GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"But this is now being undermined just as surely as a GE contamination in conventional food would undermine our reputation for exports of natural, high quality produce."

It is concerning that ERMA has already allowed sterilisation tests to go ahead in New Zealand in breach of any earlier agreement, and this may be why the government is denying that there has ever been a moratorium on Terminator and is even promoting it.

But despite such approvals in the past, New Zealand representatives at the COP8 in Brazil must heed the protests by the world community seeking to stop GURTS threatening the food supply and the livelihoods of billions. Failure to back a moratorium will be an indelible stain on our reputation and what New Zealand stands for in the eyes of the world.

Jon Carapiet - 0210 507 681

Indigenous Women protest terminator inside the COP8 meeting

A group of around thirty Indigenous women from across the Americas staged a dignified protest against Terminator on the floor of the negotiations at COP 8 today. They received a standing applause from delegates and the chair remarked that it was "a heartfelt protest that many of us feel sympathy with.. This reminds us that we are citizens of the world not just of countries". He said the protest will help the discussion on GURTS later in the day. The women stayed for about ten minutes and then left the plenary room singing traditional songs to further applause.

Day 3 - Terminator Item looms.. Jim Thomas – Wednesday 22 March 2006

So today is the day that Terminator is expected to come up in the Working Group and expectation and rumour is running high. Over 150 people are wandering around the conference room wearing distinctive white T-shirts which declare that suicide seeds are homicide seeds , there are posters and stickers, flags and placards - the front page of the Eco - the daily new service here - reminds Canada, New Zealand and Australia that 'The world is watching'. Governments are firming up their positions, issuing advance statements. We too are giving press conferences and interviews
This morning Ban Terminator released a new report that indicated the real cost of Terminator in financial terms. For example here in Brazil, soybean farmers who currently save seed every harvest would have to pay a further 407 million dollars per year if terminator became the dominant seed platform and they were forced back to seed market year on year.
One man who would oppose that is Governor Roberto Requiao who today signed into law a decree that made the labelling of GM food and animal feed mandatory in the state of Parana. the signing ceremony was held at COP8 with the National Environment Minister in attendance as well as hundreds of activist farmers from La Via Campesina.
Meanwhile hundreds more Via Campesina farmers are occupying a GM field trial about six hours away planted by Syngenta. Incredibly it turns out to be an illegal trial because it is planted close a protected reserve and last night the brazillian authorities fined Syngenta one million brazillian reals for planting illegally. Of course Syngenta are here at the CBD too..
We don't know how the different countries are going to line up on the Terminator (GURTS) item this afternoon. Brazil has issued a press statement saying that it wanst to maintain the moratorium, is opposed to field trials and drawing attention to the 'case by case' clause of the pro-terminator nations. New Zealand meanwhile has put out a press statement defending its 'case by case' argument and revealing that it is interested in putting Terminator in wild animals (possums). New Zealand Environment Minister David benson Pope said " If there were some technology that ensured sterility in our possum population, would the New Zealand public not expect us to at least consider such a possibility? Some delegates here are aghast at how out of touch New Zealand appears to be. It was bad enough to support terminator crops and terminator trees but to start arguing for terminator animals is raising eyebrows. What next? terminator humans?!



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