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Council Pressured Over GE-Free Policy

Council Pressed To Follow Australian Lead On A GE-Free Zone

June 10 2002

Mayor John Banks and other Auckland City Councillors were urged today to follow the lead set by scores of councils in Australia and Britain and to move towards declaring Auckland a GE-Free Zone.

In a an address to the full Auckland Council on Monday 10 July by Jon Carapiet from the Auckland GE-Free Coalition, councillors were presented with a summary of new evidence on the scientific risks of GM that has emerged since the Royal Commission.

The Auckland Council were told that Councils in Australia, and the State government in Tasmania had already moved to create GE-free Zones. Wales was declared a GE-Free zone and Scotland was expected to follow, as well as many other parts of Europe.

Councillors were warned to be wary of any attempts by vested interests in the biotechnology industry to suppress or create confusion around scientific facts. In particular the presentation highlighted recent revelations that UK's Nature magazine had - against scientific advice- withdraw a report on the contamination of Mexican root-stock of maize folowing heavy lobbying against the initial reports.

" The Auckland City Councillors were warned that some in the biotech industry may be attempting to suppress scientific debate about discoveries that contradict their claims of GM's safety," said Jon Carapiet spokesperson for the Auckland GE - Free Coalition which organised the 15000-person March in Auckland last September.

The Observer and other UK papers reported this weekend that not only had the editors of Nature been told by the majority of advisors that the article should not be withdrawn, but only days after the editor did so, the Mexican government announced that their own scientists had confirmed the findings.

Not long after the Nature magazine disavowal, Jorge Soberon, executive secretary of Mexico's National Commission on Biodiversity, told a conference at the Hague that tests showed that contamination of wild crops by rogue DNA was far worse than first reported.

" We explained to the Council that a GE-Free Zone in Auckland would not stop research or medical uses, but was aimed at keeping our fields and food-supply GE-Free. The council could ask its suppliers to avoid GE ingredients. They could protect Aucklanders by considering bye laws making GE release a prohibited activity. It may not prevent contamination from elesewhere but it would be better than doing nothing, should the government goes ahead and allow releases," said Mr Carapiet.

Also presented was a recent report from China showing that BT cotton designed to kill insects was damaging the environment by destabilising insect populations. http://www.botanischergarten.ch/debate/GMcottonDamage.pdf BEIJING, (Xinhuanet) --

Another report from Canada ( Margaret Munro ; National Post, June 7, 2002 )Revealed that wayward pollen and seed from genetically modified crops have cost Canadian honey producers and organic farmers millions of dollars. Researchers say there is an urgent need to better control the controversial GM crops and their novel genetic machinery.

" We want Mayor Banks and the Council to protect the interests of Aucklanders. We thank them for the interest in listening to the new findings," said Mr Carapiet. " They seem to be aware that they can no longer bury their heads in the sand over this issue."


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