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PSRG Urges Govt To Look At Alternatives To GE

PSRG Urges Government To Look At Alternatives To GE

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics urge the New Zealand government to look more seriously at the alternatives to growing genetically engineered (GE) food crops.

Growing GE food crops will endanger the NZ environment and agricultural industry, and will spoil opportunities for maintaining sustainable agricultural systems to NZ's advantage.

As the USA has experienced, export customers want GE free crops. US corn exports to Europe dropped from 2.8 million tonnes in 1995-1996 to 2300 tonnes in 2000-2001 (USDA). Their soy market is buoyed up by a nearly 70 per cent government subsidy. Canadian farmers have stated they do not want to grow GE wheat, promised for 2004/5, because export markets do not want it.

A new study by Agriculture Canada has revealed the extent of contamination from transgenic canola. Weed species have taken up genetically engineered chemical-resistant traits. Mexico, the centre of corn diversity, appears to have had its native varieties contaminated with transgenic DNA. Recently, Zimbabwe refused food 'aid' because the food - genetically engineered corn from the USA - could have contaminated local corn varieties.

Five years ago, the USA predicted most countries would soon adopt biotech farming, but basically the US, Canada, and Argentina still grow 96 percent and China three percent of transgenic crops.(2) Most other countries continue to resist growing GE crops.

The New Scientist (169:2276) reports that sustainable agriculture is the biggest movement in Third World farming today: "For some, talk of 'sustainable agriculture' sounds like a luxury the poor can ill afford. But in truth it is good science, addressing real needs and delivering real results."

Dow Jones predicts organic products will be valued at US$100 billion globally by 2006.(1) Overseas organic markets are growing at 25 percent pa. Domestic organic sales have doubled in the two years 2000-2002. After the initial enthusiasm, transgenic crop plantings have slowed, some authorities saying they have levelled off or are dropping.

PSRG urge the NZ government to look at the advantages of not releasing GEOs into the NZ environment.


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