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Govt urged to ban GM " pharmaceutical" crops

The government is being urged to permanently ban GM " pharmaceutical" crops

The government is being urged to permanently ban GM " pharmaceutical" crops from New Zealand, even if it continues to allow GM field-trials, or pushes on with its plan to lift the current moratorium on applications for GM releases.

The call follows a series of accidents in the US where food crops have become contaminated with GM crops which are being developed by Monsanto and other biotechnology companies to make pharmaceuticals ranging from vaccines to insulin.

" We believe the moratorium on commerical GM release should be maintained indefinitely, but even if the government attempt to legislate for so-called conditional release, there must be a permanent ban on Pharm crops to protect New Zealand's food exports and public health," says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

The US food industry has been alarmed at the contamination of food crops by 'Pharm" crops but negotiations with industry to ban their production in food-producing regions have collapsed.

" We are seeing the worst-case scenario of GM contamination coming closer for US farmers. There is support even from pro-GM scientists to have such crops fully contained and isolated,but industry are refusing," says Mr Carapiet.

"GE-Free NZ in food and environment believe there is sufficient scientific evidence to justify full containment of all GM organisms, and the growing problems with keeping food clear of pharmaceutical-contamination support this."

Recently a Rangiora farmer announced he was registering his farm on the internet as a "Test-ground" for pharmaceutical crops. The government made no response to this announcement or its implications for New Zealand's agriculture industry.

Other states, including close neigbours like Tasmania and New South Wales are introducing moratoria on GE food crops just as ours is threatened with being lifted.

" The government must keep GM organisms fully contained, and this must include a ban on Pharm crops to protect the integrity of New Zealands food- production system" says Mr.Carapiet.

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