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Sustainability Council jumps to wrong conclusions

Sustainability Council jumps to wrong conclusions

The Sustainability Council is wrong to claim that the government has postponed co-existence work and that this will lead to an officially tolerated presence of genetically modified material, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

"The reality is that no one is likely to apply to the Environmental Risk Management Authority to grow genetically modified crops commercially in the near future once the moratorium expires on October 29," Marian Hobbs said. "But if they do, strict conditions, including the size of buffer zones, will be imposed by ERMA. This will prevent cross-pollination of GM and non-GM crops."

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is currently working, in consultation with ERMA and potentially affected groups, including beekeepers, organic producers and conventional farmers, to put in place practical means to allow coexistence between GM and non-GM agriculture.

"We can develop a generic code of practice based on the current seed certification scheme and on agreements between organic and conventional farmers," Marian Hobbs said. "But until we know which particular crop we are dealing with, if at all, the Environmental Risk Management Authority will use its abilities to set conditions on a case-by-case basis to refine the existing seed certification scheme, and to protect neighbours from possible adverse effects.

"It is the case-by-case consideration of applications that is so important because plants behave differently and require particular controls. For example, pine trees and onions require totally different controls. One size does not fit all."

The Sustainability Council posed three questions in its media release.

"The Council should read the New Organisms and Other Matters Bill and associated policy," Marian Hobbs said. "These contain the answers to their questions. For example the Bill beefs up the liability regime if any loss were incurred."

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