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New GE Rules Threaten Kiwi Brand

New GE Rules Threaten Kiwi Brand

New Zealand's international image will be seriously damaged if the government adopts new regulations intended to stop GE-contamination in New Zealand.

It won't work.

The basis for the regulations is "co-existence"of GE and GE-Free production sytems with strict controls. But that is not possible for New Zealand, and the only option to protect GE-free producers is to ban GE releases.

Even though the standards will meet the EU system, New Zealand must be better than that and 'Gold-standard'.

When it comes to marketing ourselves as clean and green it is vital to live up to the natural clean green image that supports the economy.

"It is time to stop trying to have both options and follow the middle path of Marker Assisted Breeding," says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).

"But New Zealand cannot release GE crops, and we cannot Genetically Engineer food without damaging what consumers value most about Brand New Zealand- our clean green image."

"It is image of New Zealand as a whole that needs to be considered, not just the GE crops" says Carapiet. "We cannot have it both ways and must be positioned as GE-free or lose billions of dollars,"

Gene science can still be used, but GE food does not fit: the majority of New Zealanders agree.

Protetcting the integrity of the New Zealand Brand is important because we live in a world of perceptions. Even if GE crops are physically contained, the New Zealand Brand image will be damaged in the minds of many millions around the world.

Time has moved on since The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification proposed 'keeping options open'. It is now possible to find the middle path and have both options: the ethical use of genetic science for innovation, as well as GE-free milk, GE- Free fruit and GE-Free vegetables.

Zespri is proof- that GE-free innovation gives the best of both options and has proven benefits for New Zealand.

National as well as Labour must recognise the need for a National Science Strategy that ensures applications of gene science such as Gene-Marker assisted breeding fit with our National image.

We must use gene science intelligently and ethically. Science applications are vital to Brand New Zealand's innovative 'number 8 wire' image which needs to be strategically managed if it is to co-exist with New Zealand's clean green image.

The government needs to go further and ban commercial GE crops. Only this will be sure to stop contamination of consumers' perceptions of New Zealand. ENDS Jon Carapiet 021 0507681 reference:Greens tighten GE safeguards As part of its co-operation agreement with the Government, the Green Party has negotiated new safeguards to protect all those who want no part of any genetically-engineered farming industry. "We remain strongly opposed to GE organisms in our fields and our food and haven't given an inch on that staunch stand," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"However if at some future date National and Labour use their powers to try to force New Zealand to accept general release of GE crops, at least there'll be more rights and information for neighbours and for those who question GE." Ms Fitzsimons said a public consultation process starting now was only a few weeks long so some changes could be made before the election. She urged people - and especially growers who cared about being GE-free - to take part.

Details are about to go on the Environmental Risk Management Authority's website www.ermanz.govt.nz "These draft safeguards have been hard-won after a long and difficult debate with various Ministers, and I want to pay tribute to Environment Minister Trevor Mallard for ensuring we made progress," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Of course all this is a far cry from what the Green Party would like to see eventually; a totally GE-free food industry in New Zealand and promotion overseas of our clean and green GE status as a major marketing advantage. With only six MPs we haven't yet been able to achieve that.

"But pressure from the Greens and from consumers has so far prevented a GE farming industry from establishing here and polluting other crops. Let's hope that continues." The Government Co-operation Agreement with the Green Party states, "During this term of Parliament work will be undertaken to increase the certainty around the ability of non-GM producers to maintain GM free production and be able to identify their products as such to meet market access requirements".

The principal new GE safeguards, achieved in Green-Government negotiations:

1. An open public register of the location and identity of any GE crops allowed to be grown, excluding contained field trials.

2. A second open public register - on the compliance record of all field tests, and any releases, with details of reasons for any non-compliance and official actions taken.

3. A system of segregation to ensure GE material will not contaminate any non-GE crop. This is an important provision not only for management in the field but, as has been seen in New Zealand with cases of contaminated corn crops, for keeping seed stocks GE-free.

4. A "traceability" system from the point of production to the shop shelf based on the European Union model. The way the EU model could be applied to NZ's regulatory system will not be known until the end of August, but the EU includes a labelling scheme.

5. An agreement that the question of liability and payment for harm resulting from the use of GE organisms will be considered again by Cabinet, after the next stage of relevant international negotiations on GE are completed at Cartagena.

The full Cabinet decision will appear on the Cabinet website shortly.

ENDS


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