GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 31st  March 2004

Public Urged to oppose GE wheat Application

A campaign urging New Zealanders to oppose Monsanto's application for importation of GE wheat is hotting up following the publication of advertisements in the Weekend Herald and on-line.

The application is currently before Food Standards Australia New Zealand (the Trans-Tasman authority formerly ANZFA), but is raising international concern. Farmers and international markets fear widespread contamination if GE wheat is authorised for North America.

The application, made at the same time as one for import of GE sugar beet � now has an extended deadline for public submissions to April

The reasons for the extension is believed to be concerns about the legality of any decision given that the data supposed to be used to assess the application and available to submitters only recently arrived in New Zealand. It is understood the documentation only exists in hard copy at a single Wellington location and submitters have to pay $25 to view it.

The application for GE wheat does not include a request to grow the crop in New Zealand but past experience shows if commercialised overseas contamination of the conventional wheat supply is virtually guaranteed.

"There is huge concern that approval of commercial GE wheat crops will force acceptance of GE contamination in all wheat; as is happening with GE soy, canola, maize and other GE crops," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

The farmers and markets around the world are saying they don't want GE wheat, yet Monsanto looks intent on literally forcing it onto the market. The consumer is no longer king, but instead is now the guineapig.

Like other herbicide-resistant crops, Monsanto's GE wheat may result in more toxic sprays ending up in food because the GE crop survives spraying and can as a result absorb the RoundUp used.

The campaign to encourage New Zealanders to make submissions includes websites where people can send their comments. People are also being encouraged to copy their submissions to representatives of North America's wheat industry warning of the threat GE wheat presents to farmers already losing markets because of other GE contamination.

Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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