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PSRG Urges Government To Think Before It Acts

8 July 2002

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics urge the government to look at the economics before releasing genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) into the NZ environment.

In January 1998, Australia sold its largest ever shipment of canola to Europe because it was the only supplier with non-GE canola available. Will Australia be able to continue supplying non-GE product at a premium if GE field trails and commercial plantings go ahead?

In March 2001, the Tasmanian federal government acknowledged that transgenic canola had escaped from 11 trial sites over three years.(1) Federal reports show Aventis and Monsanto breached transgenic crop guidelines at 21 Tasmanian sites(2) and the Sydney Morning Herald (22 June 2001) reported that the Federal Government could give precise location details for less than 10 of 120 field test sites. And now the New South Wales Agriculture Minister, Richard Amery, has admitted buffer zones are unrealistic, that it is 'all or nothing' with GE.(3)

Because transgenic crops are prohibited, over the last two years Brazil's share of the world soybean market has grown from 24 to 30 percent. In the same period, the US share has dropped from 57 to 46 percent, despite a nearly 70 percent government subsidy supporting the industry.(4)

The latest EU Commission poll, matching others world-wide, found 80% of consumers opposed to GE food.(3) If NZ plants transgenic crops, will our export markets want to buy them?

References:

(1) ABC News 29 March 2001.

(2) www.excite.com.au 10 April 2001.

(3) http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/PR5384.html

(4) The Guardian (UK) 1 April 2002; Greenpeace report, "Risky Prospects."

ENDS


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