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GE flop warning to NZ farmers- Fitzsimons

Information released by the American Corn Growers' Association proves New Zealand's economy will be in grave danger if farmers start growing genetically engineered crops Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

American Corn Growers' Association head Gary Goldberg has predicted 25% fewer GM crops will be planted next year in US fields. Mr Goldberg bases his prediction on conversations he has had with farmers and seed company salesmen.

"Export markets in Europe and Asia are saying 'no' to genetically modified crops and farmers know they have to respond to consumer demand if they are to survive," Mr Goldberg said in an interview with the BBC.

"This is clear evidence that genetic engineering could have disastrous consequences for farmers, and for the economy as a whole," Ms Fitzsimons said

"We have a clear choice. We can grow genetically engineered crops that people won't buy, or we can go organic. The demand for organic food is growing very quickly by contrast.

"Only the Green Party has a comprehensive programme for banning GE crops, and becoming an organic nation," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"It doesn't involve subsidies, or cost a lot of money. Instead it addresses the problems farmers face - lack of research and advisory services, lack of marketing our organic brands, and help during the transition period.

"Even the so-called benefits of genetic engineering don't work. Soy farmers in the US have found their yields have dropped by 7 per cent. I'm really concerned about the consequences of going down that path, and I'm urging New Zealand farmers to have a good long think before heading that way," Ms Fitzsimons said.

She added that those GE crops which were meant to require less pesticide often failed in this regard too.

American farm groups also warned that inadequate testing of GE seeds could make farmers vulnerable to massive lawsuits if the seeds were found later to have negative environmental effects.

Jeanette Fitzsimons (025) 586 068

For the full BBC story go to www.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_535000/535387.stm

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