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Losing NZ’s GE-free status is a crying shame

Media release: GE-Free Canterbury
17 September 2003

GE Free Canterbury says losing NZ’s GE-free status is a crying shame

GE-Free Canterbury campaigners will converge on Lincoln this weekend to show their opposition to Crop & Food's proposed "Roundup Ready" onion trial, and to oppose the lifting of the Government's moratorium on the commercial release of GE food crops.

GE-Free Canterbury spokesperson Melanie White said that the planned protest march at 2pm this Sunday, through the main street of Lincoln to the Crop & Food research centre, will reflect the growing GE-free sentiment in New Zealand at the moment.

"Crop & Food, ERMA (the Environmental Risk Management Authority, who will decide whether to allow the GE onion trial to proceed) and the Government need to take notice of what an overwhelming number of Kiwis from all walks of life are saying - we want New Zealand to stay GE-free, " said Ms White.

"It's clear that most New Zealanders find the idea of releasing GE crops into our environment unacceptable. We’re unsure of the safety of GE in our food and in our ecosystems. The economic impacts of being a GE nation worry New Zealanders, when we rely on our clean green image for many markets. We want to wait and make sure GE crops pose no risks. This decision is one of the biggest in the history of New Zealand, politically, economically, socially and ecologically - let’s make sure we get it right," she said.

Dr Elvira Dommisse, who formerly worked on GE research for Crop and Food, said that the claimed benefits for glyphosate-resistant (Roundup-Ready) onions were reduced herbicide use and a less toxic herbicide. However, she said, onions are still sprayed with a number of chemicals to combat insect pests and bacterial, fungal and viral diseases.

“Organic growers have already addressed the sustainability issue. Rather than focussing on a herbicide-resistant onion, research funds should also be allocated to optimising the production of organically grown onions, which on a per weight basis give New Zealand a much higher return in export dollars,” said Dr Dommisse.

Although protest organisers have asked people to dress for a day in the garden on Sunday, the march will be a peaceful affair. A special "spring planting" is planned, and (organic) onion soup will be on the menu.

The march begins at 2pm at the Liffey Domain in Lincoln.

ENDS


For further information contact

Melanie White, GE-Free Canterbury spokesperson ph 03-329 9308
Elvira Dommisse ph 03-942 2748

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