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Stop NZ being a safe haven for GE pirates

28 October 2004

Green bill would stop NZ being a safe haven for GE pirates

Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says evidence is accumulating that internationally GE agriculture is an economic disaster. As a result, biotech companies will be looking to exploit countries that are weak links in the battle against GE.

She was commenting while launching a new e-card that calls on all MPs to support the Green's GE Moratorium Reinstatement Bill, due before Parliament in the next few weeks. People can send the e-card from the Greens' website via - www.greens.org.nz/ge/pmb1_pr.asp .

"The current absence of GE from New Zealand's food and environment is a matter of good luck rather than wise management," said Jeanette Fitzsimons, the Green Party's Co-Leader and GE Spokesperson.

"Since the GE Moratorium ended a year ago there have been a number of international developments that should be ringing alarm bells.

"The GE industry is in disarray, with the Wall Street Journal reporting in May that US biotech companies have lost $40 billion pursuing GE and are not a good investment. Monsanto cancelled its GE wheat, which was supposed to be the next big biotech crop, in April because growers in several countries said they would not plant it. Syngenta and Bayer have both pulled out of the UK altogether and the latter has also stopped trying to grow GE canola in Australia. Everywhere you look GE is being rolled back.

"This is all good news for the countries concerned, but New Zealand should be on its guard. The biotech pirates will be looking for a safe haven to grow their unwanted foods, so now more than ever we need a tangible legal defence against the introduction of GMOs. It is therefore fortuitous that Parliament will soon have the opportunity to reinstate the GE Moratorium.

"The potential economic impact of a GE release in New Zealand was seen last month when Thailand lost millions of dollars of papaya export orders after engineered genes were detected in crops following the accidental distribution of GE seeds from a government research trial. You would think that that example alone would alert the Government that our GE-Free status should be a matter of some economic and biosecurity importance.

"The reason the market resistance to GE food continues to grow is that more and more people around the world are realising that claims these foods have been properly tested are simply not true. For instance, in our neck of the woods, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has approved Monsanto's MON863 corn and GT73 canola, despite serious questions remaining over their testing," said Ms Fitzsimons.

ENDS

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