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Bio Dynamic Farmers Reject GM Commission Report

Media Release From The Bio Dynamic Farming And Gardening Association

The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification says it wants to preserve opportunities for the future. Its recommendations won't do that.

The Commission asks the government to tinker with the approvals system, but hasn't properly thought through the consequences. The suggested changes will allow genetic modification to enter agriculture bit by bit, especially by the extra costs that will fall on government and community organisations that will have to act as watchdogs. It suggests things - like buffer zones - that didn't work elsewhere and won't work here. It suggests approval with conditions. To be any use, conditions would have to be maintained for a very long time, perhaps centuries. How?

The Commission spent too much time on the present, and missed the opportunity to think through what it tells us about the future. For example it downplayed the risks of Bt modified corn to monarch butterflies. The same part of the report says "many submitters.cited these as examples of the potential for genetic modification to impact adversely on other species". In other words, the Commission focussed on the example itself, not on the principle that the example illuminates. In its original submission the Association said "The issue ..is not necessarily the likelihood of actual damage to monarch butterfly populations, but that such a possibility was apparently not properly investigated before the maize was commercially released".

The Commission made very specific recommendations about the management of Bt modified crops. Why so much detail on that? Bt crops are a problem, but they are yesterday's GE technology become today's problem. We needed the Commission to work out how to deal with what comes next. The helter-skelter of the genetic modification enthusiasts to get products to the marketplace will throw up many other problems. We can already see the likelihood of plants genetically modified to produce medicines and plastics. How will we keep these out of our breakfast?

The Commission hasn't finished the job, and that's clear from the recommendations for a Bioethics Council and a Parliamentary Commissioner for Biotechnology. These recommendations say "We want to hand the job on"

The organic movement offered the Commission a clear way to preserve New Zealand's options. It was to keep genetic modification inside the laboratory, and not allow it out into the environment or agriculture. The Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening is deeply disappointed that the Commission has failed to address this obvious opportunity.

A number of witnesses freely gave their time and traveled long distances at the request of the Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association and other organisations. The Association is very disappointed on their behalf as well as that of New Zealand and New Zealand farmers.

For further information please contact:

David Wright, Executive Secretary, Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, 0-4-589 5366.

PO Box 39045, Wellington, New Zealand.

Ph +64-4-589 5366

Fax +64-4-589 5365

Email: biodynamics@clear.net.nz

Web: www.biodynamic.org.nz


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