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Scrambled Soybeans Give Hint Of Monitoring Madness

18.8.01

Scrambled Soybeans Give Hint Of Monitoring Madness To Come

Agrochemical giant, Monsanto's GE soy got some bad press in the New York Times this week, as unidentified DNA was found to be lurking in their patented products. Dr. Marc De Loose of the Centre for Agricultural Research in Melle, Belgium, also found that the unknown DNA was not present in soybeans that had not been genetically engineered. A suggestion was made that this unknown DNA could be the plant's own DNA but scrambled, when the bacterial gene had been inserted or that part of the plant's original DNA had gone missing.

"We know that these crops are inherently unstable, we told the Royal Commission of this problem," said Susie Lees of GE Free New Zealand, "It raises a host of issues regarding both the safety of GE crops both as foods and in the environment, and the validity of patents on genetically engineered organisms. The monitoring and liability issues surrounding these crops could be horrendously expensive, leaving us to wonder if New Zealand would be wise to jeopardise it's booming agricultural industry."

Analysts forecast agricultural exports totalling almost $3 billion dollars would be lost due to countries who are not prepared to import GE foods. Many of these countries are fighting the WTO for the right to ban the importation and sale of these foods, which they see not only as a health risk but also as a threat to biosecurity.

"Whilst cross examining ANZFA, the Australia and New Zealand Food Authority, I asked about the possibility of stray genes, and whether crops were subject to regular testing to ensure they were genetically identical to those approved." said Susie Lees. "The Royal Commission report said ANZFA stated that they approved specific GE foods and that 'Once approval had been given, responsibility for monitoring and enforcing standards in New Zealand rested with the Ministry of Health.' ."(Para 114/115 P213)

This situation will only get worse as more controversial GE crops are grown and instability and outcrossing, resulting in genetic pollution, become widespread. With an ailing health system estimated at 80th in a worldwide review, can the government afford to gamble with the future public and environmental health and economy of New Zealand.

Ends

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