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Biotech Industry fails to control products

Illegal GE seeds spread as Biotech Industry fails to control products

Major companies pushing GE in agriculture are failing to ensure their products are kept under control. There is an urgent need to make companies comply with international regulations by making them liable for damage from their products.

The call for greater international controls follows a Reuters report from Paraguay that GM soy seeds smuggled across the border with Argentina are being planted without legal authorisation, or the correct management controls required to prevent contamination of other stock.

Similar reports have been received from other parts of the world raising concerns that a strategy of "accidental contamination" is being accepted by some GM companies as a way of side-stepping regulation and leaving consumers around the world no choice to avoid GE products.

"New Zealand should be working on the international stage to ensure a stop to illegal spread of GE seeds," says Jon Carapiet, spokespserson for GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"Companies must be made liable for the damage they do by allowing illegal trade in their seed. Monsanto and other companies have gone to great lengths to prosecute North American farmers like Percy Schmeiser- for supposedly using their patented seeds. They must also take responsibility to stop the illegal contamination going on in developing countries."

Recent confirmation of GE contamination in Mexico has sent warning signals that GE constructed- seeds may be unstable and spreading genetic components into normal plants. However companies have continued to promote their GE products despite the clear evidence of negative economic and environmental impacts.

"Farmers in developing countries are even more vulnerable to industry marketing tactics that the USDA identified - in the absence of significant yield or other benefits- as being a key reason for the rapid spread of GE in the US in the 1990's", says Mr Carapiet.

"Illegal GE seed may be an easy temptation to poor farmers especially if it is cheap after being dumped by other countries, as has been the case with GM food aid".

The threat from illegal GE seed contamination is a global one. Recent contamination found in New Zealand in imported corn resulted in thousands of dollars in costs. However at the time some biotech-industry representatives said that the taxpayer should cover the costs, rather than the companies involved.

"It is unacceptable to force the public- whether it is the poor farmers in developing countries or the New Zealand taxpayers, to carry the can. Biotech Companies whose products are used illegally, or spread to cause irreversible contamination must be held liable for damage. They are the ones trying to profit from their patents by claiming ownership."

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