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Genetically-engineered maize decision a shocker

The decision to allow a trial of genetically-engineered maize may backfire on New Zealand's reputation as a food exporter, says Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

International company Pioneer Hi-Bred has been given the go-ahead by the Environment Risk Management Authority to grow genetically-engineered insect resistant maize at Pukekohe. A number of European countries have refused to approve this variety of maize for human consumption.

"This approval makes us wonder if there is anything that ERMA will ever turn down," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Bt maize is one of the most dangerous genetic-engineering experiments. The pollen is toxic, bees can carry it five kilometres, the wind can carry it much further.

"Anyone who thinks that putting paper bags over the tassels will stop the pollen from spreading has no hands-on experience of actually growing things on the land.

"Bt corn is a threat to all our beneficial insects, as well as to the future of organic farming. This is the corn pollen that killed the monarch butterflies. It is proven that it will cause pests to become resistant to Bt, destroying its value as an organic pesticide.

"With genetic engineering getting bad press around the world, and the demand and price for organic goods shooting up, it is ludicrous that New Zealand is positioning itself as a place for international companies to trial genetically-engineered crops."

"It is hard to see that ERMA has followed the precautionary principle and it is hard to see what benefit there is for New Zealand in being the test bed for a French multi-national."

Jeanette Fitzsimons: 025 586 068

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