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NZ's GE free status under threat

NZ's GE free status under threat

Lisa Er founder of Lisa's Hummus is fronting Soil & Health - Organic NZ's "She'll be right (if we say no to GMO's) campaign. "Pressure to grow GE crops in NZ of late and the introduction of GE feed into our dairy cows diet is very concerning and compromises NZ's clean green image" she says.

Recent media commentary suggests that neither farmers nor consumers were made aware of this infiltration of GE into the food chain.

"New Zealand's clean green reputation is our competitive advantage especially in high growth markets such as China and South East Asia" says Er.

Lisa Er founded the successful Lisa's Hummus, a company which built its competitive advantage on a product that was preservative and GE free.

"It is probable that an application will be made soon for the commercial release of a GE Ryegrass crop in our country and if that happens our GE free status and clean, green image will be lost forever" says Debbie Swanwick, Spokesperson for Soil & Health - Organic NZ.

The commercial release of GE crops in Australia in recent years has seen conventional and organic crops contaminated, giving big Agri Tech companies a monopoly on the food supply and removing consumer choice.

Safety is a key issue of anti GE campaigners. No long term testing has been done on GE crops nor do any government regulatory bodies require it but a recent study conducted over the lifespan of rats (two years) on rats by Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen in France, has raised concern. The study found that laboratory rats fed a diet of genetically modified (GM) Roundup-Ready maize developed liver and kidney damage , higher levels of cancers and had higher death rates than rats fed on non-GM maize.

"Feeding the world is the catchcry of GE advocates" says Swanwick, "but GE wont deliver on that promise. We can feed the world now. Forty percent of all food is wasted. Nor does GE increase production or revenue for farmers. The 2009 Failure to Yield report by the Union of concerned scientists proved this. It does however improve the profits for big agri tech companies based offshore. Last year Monsanto - one of the largest - made $6 billion dollars."

The failure of BT corn crops in the US this year puts 65% of all corn grown in the US and the rest of the world at risk. The rootworm which attacks the corn has, over a decade, developed a resistance to the inbuilt pesticide and is now attacking it.

"The increase in super weeds and super insects is leading us towards an agricultural dead end and pesticide use is increasing to cope" says Swanwick.

A report released by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University states that genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011.

GE crops reduce biodiversity and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems and soil organisms. In the past twenty five years 50% of honey bee populations have been lost in the UK and US alone from increased pesticide use.

Says Er "in 1987 David Lange and his government stood for the people of NZ, declaring our country a nuclear free zone We are now asking New Zealanders to stand up for our country to be a clean green GE free zone. We may be a little country but we have a big voice and New Zealanders are fiercely protective of their environment."

Funds raised from the campaign will help Soil & Health - Organic NZ lobby key stakeholders and co-create policy to ensure NZ's GE free status is not compromised, whilst encouraging government to fund research into organic sustainable agricultural practices.

Lisa Er is grassed off that NZ's clean green image is currently under threat by GE

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