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Govt Urged To Back Down On Terminator Technology

10 February 2005

Govt urged to back down on terminator technology

The Greens are horrified that New Zealand is one of only three countries pushing to change the rules governing the use of "terminator technology", which prevents seeds from developing into new plants.

Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are pushing for a lifting of the defacto moratorium on use of terminator technology in the field - contained in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity - at a meeting in Bangkok concluding tomorrow.

"It is alarming that we're lining up with the genetic vandals of the world against Europe and the developing world to force this technology on to an unsuspecting public," Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

"In 1999, Monsanto and other big seed companies publicly committed to shelving the technology after an international outcry against it. It is appalling that New Zealand would now be supporting Canada's attempt to revive it."

Ms Fitzsimons said it was impossible to be sure whether seed sterility would spread to other crops if this technology is used.

"The risks to small farmers in the developing world are enormous. This technology could mean bankruptcy and starvation for subsistence farmers throughout the developing world.

"This technology could also be used as a way to promote more GE crops on the assumption that the GE seed won't spread. However, that assumption has yet to be proven to any adequate standard," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"There remain huge unanswered questions about its safety, and about whether it will lead to the spread of seed sterility, and thus lead to the bankruptcy and starvation of small farmers. Until those questions are properly answered, we must proceed with caution.

"The technology will undoubtedly give even greater control of the world's food supply to multinational corporations," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity were right to agree on a ban on this technology. That ban should be formalised, not completely removed, and it is very concerning that New Zealand would be trying to prevent it becoming international law."

The Greens are calling on all concerned members of the public to email the relevant ministers - the Prime Minister helen.clark at parliament.govt.nz), the Environment Minister ( marian.hobbs at parliament.govt.nz), the Trade Negotiations Minister ( jim.sutton at parliament.govt.nz), the Research, Science and Technology Minister (pete.hodgson at parliament.govt.nz), the Economic Development Minister ( jim.anderton at parliament.govt.nz) and the Foreign Affairs Minister (phil.goff at parliament.govt.nz) - urging them to change New Zealand's stance on terminator technology at tomorrow's meeting.

ENDS


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