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New Zealand Plans To Sign Biosafety Protocol Today

New Zealand Plans To Sign Biosafety Protocol Today :

Advanta moves seed production to New Zealand

As at least the first fifty countries are expected to sign a Protocol on Biosafety (1) in Nairobi today, including the New Zealand delegation, Greenpeace International is calling for a trade ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), at least until this Biosafety Protocol has entered into force (2).

Greenpeace said that the urgency and necessity of such a trade ban was demonstrated by last week's evidence that thousands of hectares have been planted in Europe with GE-contaminated rape seed from the company Advanta, without the farmers and authorities knowing.

"If such scandalous breaches of the law happen in Europe these days, what then is the situation in other countries around the world, where neither the technical means to detect such GMOs are available, nor the institutional and legal framework is in place to prevent them?", asked Arnaud Apoteker, Greenpeace Genetic Engineering campaigner in Nairobi.

Advanta have now moved their seed production to New Zealand to ensure GMO-free purity, to avoid any future contamination of conventional seeds with GE seeds. “This move is demonstration that New Zealand is currently perceived globally as a GE free nation, and that we could attract new scientific and corporate interest if we maintain this status in the long term” said Tricia Allen, Campaign Director for Greenpeace in New Zealand.

"A trade ban would represent the best incentive to make the Biosafety Protocol operational as soon as possible," said Apoteker. "It would also be a good way to persuade the US Congress to finally ratify the UN Convention on Biological Diversity." (3)

ENDS

Note to editors:

(1) The Biosafety Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity which was adopted in January 2000 in Montreal, recognises the right of any country to say No to GMOs on the basis of the precautionary principle. According to the precautionary principle, the limits to our scientific knowledge should not be used to postpone preventative action when there is a serious cause for concern. (PTO)

(2) This week´s signature of the Protocol is only the first step. New Zealand, along with other signatories, must then ratify the Protocol as required by our national laws and political systems (generally, ratification of an international instrument of this kind must be submitted to our national Parliament). The Protocol will enter into force only 19 days after at least 50 countries have ratified it.

(3) Under pressure from the US pharmaceutical industry which does not want to share with developing countries and indigenous communities the benefits from genetic resources, the US Congress has vetoed since 1992 the ratification of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

For more information :

Arnaud Apoteker, Greenpeace International campaigner in Nairobi +254 2 740 920, or through Véronique Papon, at Greenpeace France, at +33 1 53 43 85 82; Mika Railo, Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31.20.5249 548; Tricia Allen, Greenpeace New Zealand Campaign Director +64 25 790817.

Background information on the Biosafety Protocol is available on www.greenpeace.org.

A background briefing on the GE rapeseed contamination scandal is available from Tricia Allen in the NZ office.

ends

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