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Officials out of touch with New Zealanders

30 July 2008

Officials out of touch with New Zealanders

It is ridiculous that officials are backing a proposal to set up a new field trial in Canterbury of genetically engineered onions, spring onions, garlic and leeks by saying it would "enhance"aspects of New Zealand's reputation, says Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

"I wish some of these government advisors who are pushing New Zealand to become the world's GE laboratory, with all the risks that involves, would talk to just a few of the many ordinary New Zealanders who email and 'phone me urging the Greens to do all we can to keep our food-growing industry GE-free."

Crop and Food Research scientists are awaiting approval for the 10-year field trial and an Environmental Risk Management Authority project team has said in an interim report just issued that it considers, "the benefits to be derived from the proposed field test would be; enhancing New Zealand's ability to preserve options and maintain choices, increased scientific knowledge including knowledge about environmental impacts, agronomic performance and impactŠ and enhanced reputation of New Zealand agricultural research".

Says Ms Fitzsimons; "To most people, saying GE food trials would enhance our reputation in any way, especially as a producer of clean and green products, would be like saying nuclear warship visits could do likewise.

"Rather than 'preserving options and maintaining choices' we are heading down a route that will seriously restrict the choices of growers who wish to satisfy their markets that their products are totally GE-free, and eventually deny choice to New Zealand consumers who want certainty their food is uncontaminated.

"Significantly this test takes the risk to new levels by allowing a small number of onion plants in the field to flower and set seed within special cages, rather than preventing GE plants from reproducing as in previous trials.
"Unlike the Greens, and most New Zealanders, the Government doesn't care whether we are GE-free or not and with each new trial, the risk of accidents is increased and so is the risk to our international image."

ENDS


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