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Fed Farmers foist pro-GE lobbyist on grain growers

Greenpeace Press Release

Fed Farmers foist pro-GE lobbyist on NZ grain growers

Auckland, Wednesday 24 March 2004: Greenpeace today criticised the ongoing failure of Federated Farmers to offer a balance of views on genetic engineering (GE) by their plans to host and promote a pro-GE crop advocate in Ashburton this Friday.

Mr Gregory Conko is scheduled to speak, along with Dr Richard Foster, at a number of events in the coming few days including a Federated Farmers Grains Council meeting in Ashburton.

“This American fellow Conko is a hard line GE advocate yet he is being billed by Fed Farmers as someone with a balanced view on biotechnology,” commented Greenpeace GE spokesperson Steve Abel. “Conko is expert at regurgitating the same sort of pro-GE Public Relations spin as the worlds biggest GE seed producer Monsanto who, not surprisingly, feature him on their website,” [1] says Abel.

Conko advocates removing restrictions on GE crop growing and constantly utters spin, scientific inaccuracies and outright lies about GE crops, such as; “In the USA…the commercial cultivation of GM crops has reduced insecticide and herbicide use,” “The use of bioengineering technology for the development of new plant varieties…has increased crop yields and food production,” and “Genetic modification can offer tremendous benefits for the environment, for farmers and for consumers - but only if we give it a chance to prove itself.”

In fact the majority of GE acreage yields less than conventional equivalents according to analysis of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures. [2] Also according to USDA figures, GE crops have led to a massive increase in herbicide use in the US [3] and a number of other problems such as superweeds with multiple herbicide resistance.

After seven years of GE production many North American farmers and farmer bodies such as the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) are strongly opposing the release of GE wheat. The CWB, as the biggest marketer of wheat and barley in the world, oppose GE wheat exactly because they see it as harming their industry on the basis of their experiences with other GE crops. [4] Consumers the world-over are well aware that GE crops offer them no benefits and continue to demand GE free foods. GE has been given a huge ‘chance’ in the US and has proved itself an environmental, public, commercial and agronomic failure.

“I would advise that people avoid Mr Conko but those who do find themselves in earshot of him should be aware that he certainly does not offer accurate information or represent a balanced view on GE crops,” concluded Abel.


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