GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 23th July  2003

Planting of GE Trees Prompts Export Warning

Revelations that experimental GE Spruce trees were planted out 2 weeks ago near Rotorua, have prompted warnings that the project could undermine certification of timber exports from New Zealand. Forest Research Institute revealed in a letter to ERMA that they had pushed ahead with planting of GE spruce trees which had been given the go-ahead by ERMA over a year ago. However new warnings about the impact of GE trees on future trade has added to existing public concerns about the use of antibiotic markers genes, the impact on soil micro-organisms and insects, and the long-term contamination of the environment.

The warning follows confirmation by environmental organizations involved with the �Environment Chamber� that Forest Stewardship Council standards do not allow GE to be used  in certified plantation timber.

It is understood there have been ongoing discussions with forestry industry groups involved in the Chamber about how the Forest Stewardship Council�s GE ban will be expressed in the NZ National Standards.

�It seems likely that - as in other areas of GM- the real benefit is for us to use ethical applications in the lab to learn more about trees and ecosystems, but must not release experimental and uncontrollable GE organisms into those systems. FRI are overstepping that mark if in the future we want NZ timber exports to carry the seal of approval from the Council,� says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

Forest industry representatives should be very concerned that what FRI is doing seems to run counter to the Forest Stewardship Council principles and will mean that NZ exotic timber commercialized from those trees will not be accepted into FSC sensitive markets.

Contact Jon Carapiet � 09 815 3370

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