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Dirty tricks campaign to get genetic engineering into NZ

Soil & Health Association of New Zealand
(Est. 1941)
Publishers of ORGANIC NZ
3 April 2011
Dirty tricks campaign to get genetic engineering into the New Zealand landscape

A dirty tricks campaign is under way to get public and government acceptance of genetically engineered (GE) crops into New Zealand farming systems, according to the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand.

The release on Friday by Otago University’s Associate Professor John Knight, of an Agmardt funded report on the attitude of tourists to scenarios of nuclear power and GE crops was incomplete and constructed to get the result that Agmardt and United States foreign policy wanted, says Soil & Health. (1)

The report failed to disclose the results of significant questions around the 100% Pure New Zealand brand, or what trust in New Zealand would be, should the Government allow nuclear power, allow factory farming, close GE field trials, demand GE labelling and for biotech companies to be liable for GE damage. The report was a mix of selected data and opinion by the author, who is closely linked to the biotech industry.

“Agmardt and Pastoral Genomics have only just hosted the internationally discredited, University of California Professor, Pamela Ronald, for a public relations tour of New Zealand. Ronald intentionally misrepresented organic systems and GE as potentially coexisting,” said Soil & Health-Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning. (2)

“Both Knight’s report and Ronald’s presentations and responses to media are extremely misleading and part of a pro-GE strategy outlined in the recommendations by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) international GE policy specialist Terri Dunahay following her time in New Zealand government agencies last year.” (3)

“Wikileaks has shown the United States embassy pressure on the New Zealand government to embrace GE, and now Fonterra and PGG Wrightson’s associates, Agmardt and Pastoral Genomics, are ramping up the public relations communications in New Zealand in an effort to tick Dunahay’s recommendation boxes and get GE rye grass and clover into New Zealand’s pastures.” (4,5,6)

“Monsanto’s GE crops, and Scion and ArboGen’s GE pines, would quickly follow any introduction of GE pastures,” said Mr Browning.

“Unfortunately the pro-GE PR is neither accurate nor balanced and fails to include the benefits of remaining both nuclear free and GE free, or the costs to New Zealand’s current primary production being able to declare its produce as free from GE contamination.”

“Associate Professor Knight needs to make available the latest raw research data for independent analysis.”

“Knight’s Agmardt funded report fails to address the opportunities to tourism by remaining GE free. Even accepting Knight’s biased research, the approximately 9 % of tourists, who said that they would stop visiting New Zealand if GE was introduced, are very valuable to a tourist industry currently suffering from decline in tourist numbers.”

“Knight failed to consider the effects of the 9% drop in tourism, and suggested that “ Introduction of drought-tolerant GM pasture into New Zealand would seem highly unlikely to have a damaging impact on New Zealand’s ‘clean green’ image for either exports of food products or for tourism.”

“A well facilitated public debate between GE protagonists, and Soil & Health-Organic NZ and GE Free NZ representatives is urgently needed.”

Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020 where Aotearoa New Zealand remains Nuclear Free, GE Free, Factory Farm Free, and is following a path towards organic genuinely sustainable production and conservation.

(1) http://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/otago017378.html Please contact Steffan Browning for a copy of the full report. The full report is also available on request from Otago University, although the raw data does not appear to be available.

(2) http://www.organicnz.org/soil-and-health-press/mission-misrepresents-reality/

(3) http://www.fulbright.org.nz/voices/axford/2010_dunahay.html

(4) http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1012/S00171/wikileak-das-reed-engages-on-tpp-un-env-fiji-apec.htm

(5) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/03/wikileaks-us-eu-gm-crops

(6) http://www.organicnz.org/soil-and-health-press/pure-newzealand/

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