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Bayer's UK back-off is a market signal for GE

Bayer's UK back-off is a market signal for GE

Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen Street MP today warned New Zealand's agricultural sector that opposition to genetic engineering in farming is mounting overseas.

Mr Ewen-Street's comment was in response to reports yesterday that major biotech company Bayer CropScience has given up attempts to grow commercial GE maize in Britain. Bayer has said the recent easing of the UK's approval conditions had not gone far enough to make the project viable.

"The British Government had relaxed their controls as much as they could and that still wasn't enough for the GE corporates," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"So the real reason Bayer backed off is that grass-roots campaigners have successfully exposed the poor science, the lack of strict liability in the event of contamination, the increased use of herbicide and the impossibility of coexistence with conventional crops. No company can afford to operate in a climate of such mounting hostility for long."

Dr Brian John, a spokesperson for the Welsh group GM Free Cymru, described the Bayer CropScience withdrawal as "a victory for democracy over an arrogant and insensitive biotechnology corporation and over a Government obsessed with a redundant and unwanted technology". (

Mr Ewen-Street said: "The Bayer move comes hard on the heels of mounting concern worldwide, with Vermont in the US and Western Australia increasing restrictions on the growing of GE crops. In addition to environmental dangers, market factors are significant - consumers are going out of their way to avoid buying GE food products".

"European authorities have always said it would be the market that would decide the viability of growing and selling GE, once governments assessed safety and risk. A recent major public survey has shown 90 per cent of the British public are against GE crops.

"This is a message that New Zealand farmers are also beginning to understand.

"Ours is a market-driven economy, so if consumers won't buy something, it is economic madness to produce what they don't want, especially with New Zealand's market advantage of being seen as clean and green."


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