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Government must stop US company's Illegal planting


Government must stop US company's Illegal plantings genetically polluting New Zealand

Plans by US timber companies to plant GE redwoods on New Zealand soil are illegal, and threaten the future of New Zealand's timber industry. The plans reported by Associated Press last weekend contravene ERMA regulations on GE releases, and are a warning signal that New Zealand is vulnerable to experimentation by overseas companies.

The plans also add to concerns that trade agreements will make it harder for New Zealand to oppose companies wanting to experiment in this way. There is a serious risk that companies could force in experiments or threaten to take a case before the WTO, just as the US has mooted in support of its demands that the EU lift their moratorium on GM food.

"This signals a serious threat to our sovereignty" said Jon Carapiet of GE Free NZ in Food and Environment. "It is also a threat to our integrity and our clean green image. They seem to see New Zealand is an easy-touch." The impact of GM organisms on soil and the wider environment are becoming clearer and independent scientist warn the long-term implications are extremely serious. "The impact is both in terms of the environment and our strategic marketing," says Mr Carapiet. GE-Free NZ in food and environment want immediate action from the government stop this and any similar projects from proceeding. " This proposal is currently illegal and must be stopped. The threat to New Zealand will be even greater if the government drops the moratorium on applications for GE release in October," says Mr Carapiet

ENDS

BACKGROUND
STRAWBERRY VALLEY -- A timber company, reported to be 'fed up' with environmental battles, has decided to produce genetically engineered redwoods and ship them to New Zealand where they'll be grown for lumber.

Soper-Wheeler Co. has contracted with a Humboldt County tree nursery to grow
and ship about 150,000 seedlings to the company's 10,000-acre plantation on
New Zealand's South Island. The trees, shipped in sterilized Petri dishes,
will be planted in August.

Six months ago, Soper-Wheeler planted the first 50,000 young redwoods at the
site, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported Saturday.

The company's plantings will continue during the next 35 years, with the
first trees harvested and sent to U.S. mills at the end of that cycle,
according to Jim Rydelius, a veteran North Coast forester managing the
project.

Rydelius said because of climate conditions and genetically improved
strains, the New Zealand trees a! re expected to be "significantly larger"
than North Coast redwoods of the same age.

Soper-Wheeler owns 103,000 acres of timberlands, including a 10,000-acre
swath of Mendocino County redwoods.

Mendocino Redwood is among a growing list of state timber companies who are
looking to New Zealand for possible future investments in redwood and
Douglas fir production.


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