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Seed Security Vital for New Zealand

04/10/2013 Seed Security Vital for New Zealand

Securing New Zealand's production of seed and access to imported seed, should be a national priority but the Government must develop a long term strategy.

To draw attention to the issue and to mark global Freedom Seed and Safe Food month, night guerilla gardens have sprung up overnight in disused plots as a celebration of 'open source' seed developed by communities over millennia.[1][2]

There is a need for a national strategy that suits New Zealand's economic reliance on agriculture and exports of high quality, safe food. This has been exposed by new information that highlights the growing monopoly on seed through genetic engineering (GE) used by Monsanto, DuPont/Pioneer, Syngenta, and Dow AgroSciences which now own 80 percent of the U.S. corn market and 70 percent of the soybean business. [3]

In the last decade costs of GE seed has risen over 300% yet with aggressive marketing by these companies touting superiority of their patented seed and better yield, poorer farmers have been conned into throwing away their old ways of seed saving and instead growing GE seeds. Only later have they found out the real price: their health has been seriously affected, birth defects are rising, [4] cost of seed and chemical use has escalated as super weeds spread, yields are down and debt is forcing them off their family farms.

Whilst some farmers are abandoning GE crops that are now overwhelmed with resistant weeds, others cannot go back. It is increasingly difficult to find GE Free canola, corn and soy seed in the America’s.

New Zealand has the ability to lead the world in the production of GE Free seeds including meeting the demand in the areas of canola, corn and soy.

"As a nation it is vital we have secure seed supplies for those seeds we currently import. We must also build local capacity to export clean seed and to provide New Zealand growers with independence and resilience against the problems developing overseas," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ (food and environment).

“New Zealand must protect its farmers and invest in the natural seed breeding it has led the world in. We must avoid the dangers of GE crops controlled by the 5 monopolistic Agrochemical companies," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ.

"The best way to do this is to ensure we stay GE Free and become a seed producer for the markets that need it.”

"The fastest growing food sector in the United States is for GM-Free products, adding to the growing global demand for GE free food. Ninety percent of Americans want GM food labelled, just as it is required to be in New Zealand. At minimum the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement should require the extension of strict labeling of GE food to all participating states."

New Zealand's position in the southern hemisphere has made it a valuable location for bulking up seed to be grown in the Northern hemisphere spring.

At a time of waning seed security New Zealand must protect its environment and export standing, by building on what it does well and provide clean seed for the international market.

For this to happen the New Zealand Government must support our farmers and refuse to sign any TPP agreement which is subverted by the US's openly declared agenda to protect and grow US investment via “mutual recognition” that harmonizes trade laws, and means GE foods are forced on all TPPA countries. [5]

“We ask that the Government ensures our GE free status is preserved by declaring a moratorium on GMO’s in the environment and a specific clause in the TPPA allowing us to preserve our GE Free seeds by refusing to import GE seed," said Jon Carapiet.

Leaked information from the secretive TPP negotiations indicate rules on food origins will deny GE labeling, and will allow foreign investors to buy into state owned enterprises (SOEs) leaving the New Zealand vital agricultural sector open to a takeover and vulnerable to a research agenda that is not in New Zealand's interests.

[1] http://www.nzherald.co.nz/wairarapa-times-age/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503414&objectid=11133873#cmnts_Start

[2] March for Seed Freedom Wellington & Rotorua  http://www.facebook.com/events/659016994122615/?context=create#https://www.facebook.com/events/264719693671906/

[3] http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2013/15093-gm-seed-monopoly-fewer-choices-higher-pricesmination of the seeds saved results in infringement of patent law and is

[4] Paganelli A., Gnazzo V., Acosta H., López S. and Andrés E. Carrasco A E. Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling Chem. Res. Toxicol., 2010, 23 (10), pp 1586–1595.DOI: 10.1021/tx1001749


[5] The Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Issues for Congress http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R42694.pdf

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