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High risk to NZ's GE free status posed by uncrushed seed

High risk to NZ's GE free status posed by uncrushed seed

"The discovery last week of uncrushed GE seed in a cotton seed meal shipment imported from Australia is outrageous" says Debbie Swanwick, Spokesperson, Soil & Health - Organic NZ.

However William Rolleston, Federated Farmers vice-President, cited the major concern with the shipment was that it contained exotic weeds.

"This level of apathy about the risk to NZ's GE Free status is gross negligence" says Swanwick. "Federated Farmers represents one of the largest consumer groups in NZ, farmers, and NZ farmers should not be forced to have to grow GE crops because a body that should represent their right to choose is failing to stand on their behalf. It is simply good fortune that the discovery of the contagion made by MPI was in a South Island shipment, where conditions for growing cotton seed are not conducive, but next time we might not be so lucky" says Swanwick.

GE crops contaminate conventional and organic crops, as has been the Australian experience. In July last year Steve Marsh sued his neighbor Michael Baxter for contaminating his farm with his GE canola which resulted in the loss of his organic status. The case is soon to be settled in the Western Australia Supreme court.

"There is a minor group of individuals in NZ who are intent on GE crops being grown here. Despite what is being said about their intention to secure our borders against it they are turning a blind eye to practices that could unleash it. The importation of GE supplementary feed that is unlabeled and compromises our food chain and export markets, being but one practise. This story has got RCD written all over it and that didn't have a happy ending either" says Swanwick.

Despite a government announcement in 1997 that the rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD) or Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) would not be released in NZ, until they saw how the Australian experience unfolded, the virus was illegally imported into the country to the detriment of all NZ farmers.

Following the RHDV introduction, there was an immediate and dramatic decline of rabbit numbers between less than twenty percent to ninety percent on monitored properties but since the mid 2000's serological testing has shown that increasing proportions of live rabbits have been exposed to the virus and survived which is evidenced by the rise in rabbit populations again (1)

An immediate ban on all imported GE supplementary animal feed has been called for by Soil & Health - Organic NZ until Australian biosecurity measures are improved.

"Let's take the opportunity to learn from the Australian experience this time instead of jumping the gun again - this time with GE" says Swanwick.

Soil & Health is one of the oldest organic organisations in the world and promote fresh, healthy, organic food - GE, pesticide and additive free. Oranga Nuku, Oranga Kai Oranga Tangata.

(1) http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/files/pests/rabbit/rabbit-management-in-nz.pdf


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