Greenpeace today called on Environment Minister Marian Hobbs to put a stop to the field trial application for genetically engineered trees, currently being considered by ERMA (Environmental Risk Management Authority). This request was stated in a letter to Ms Hobbs office today for immediate attention.
Marian Hobbs stated clearly that the moratorium was put in place because “any decision to allow a general release of a GMO may be irreversible” (1). However contrary to this position, ERMA is allowing the application by the Forest Research Institute (FRI) to plant out GE trees to go ahead.
“The possibility of approving the release of transgenic pine trees into our environment makes a mockery of the voluntary moratorium and the Royal Commission of Inquiry,” said Annette Cotter, Greenpeace GE Campaigner. “It is obvious that the Forest Research Institute (FRI) and Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) are undermining the whole process by ignoring the purpose of the moratorium. This is a blatant disregard for the public concern which led to the Inquiry in the first place,” said Ms Cotter.
“If they proceed, ERMA will face large scale opposition to the FRI application, much like Monsanto’s GE wheat application last year. Monsanto withdrew their application after thousands of concerned people voiced their objections to GE wheat trials that were genetically engineered to contain a herbicide,” said Ms Cotter.
“If approved, these transgenic pines will be in the ground for 22 years, and the potential for environmental harm is considerable. In other countries, manipulated trees have behaved in unpredictable ways and there is no guarantee that these pines won’t display erratic behaviour also. For example, the wood in some genetically engineered aspen in the United States of America changed from white to a mottled red. Cross contamination also poses a great risk, not only to our native flora and fauna, but also to our large plantation industry,” said Ms Cotter.
Ms Cotter added, “The New Zealand environment should not be a genetic engineering experiment site. We have the potential to be GE free and exploit the growing demand for GE free products in the global economy.”