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GE Wheat Is The Biggest Battle Yet

9 March 2004

GE wheat is the biggest battle yet

Green MPs Jeanette Fitzsimons and Sue Kedgley are warning that New Zealand has become part of what GE-Free activists are calling "the world's latest and biggest battle over GE food".

They are calling on all New Zealanders concerned about what they eat to make submissions in the next few weeks to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) on Monsanto's GE wheat application.

"This wheat proposal is the most dangerous attempt yet to force GE food on New Zealanders unwilling to be guinea pigs in a corporate experiment," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party Co-leader and Spokesperson on Genetic Engineering.

"Unlike other crops, GE wheat has never been grown anywhere in the world, so we've got even less information on its effect on people than we have for other GE foods. While this application is only for GE wheat to enter the food chain, it is also likely to be a back-door attempt by Monsanto to grow this wheat in our environment."

Sue Kedgley, the Green Party Safe Food Spokesperson said: "This rather rapid approval process is yet another attempt by FSANZ to slip even more GE ingredients into our food. Wheat is a staple for most people and is hard to avoid. Combined with GE corn and soy, approval for this wheat will mean all baked goods are likely to soon contain GE. This is a watershed application and is clearly part of an international campaign to force GE wheat on consumers and growers despite overwhelming resistance from both groups."

Monsanto is trying to counter American and European growers' realistic fears about consumer rejection and cross contamination of crops by pursuing rapid regulatory approval in Australasia, North America and Japan.

"Agreement by growers to plant this wheat depends on our willingness to eat it," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Yesterday's news that non-GE crops in the US are already widely contaminated with material from their GE equivalents means we can expect any future release of insufficiently tested GE wheat to eventually contaminate all other wheat. "New Zealanders only have until March 31 to make submissions to FSANZ. I encourage everyone to do so because this is an opportunity to not just influence what is sold here but what is grown everywhere."

Information on the GE wheat application, including submissions, can be found (as a Word document) at the FSANZ website - http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/A524_RR_Wheat_IAR.doc.

ENDS

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