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Farmer's Interest In GM Could Cost Country $$$

GE Free New Zealand In Food And Environment Inc. PO Box 693, Nelson

PRESS RELEASE 23 February 2003

23.2.03

A New Zealand farmers's interest in growing GM pharmaceutical crops on his land could cost the country billions of dollars in damages to our environment and export reputation.

The announcement by the Life Sciences Network that a Rangiora farmer is looking to join up to an internet-based register of international "Pharm crop" sites is an alarming development. It comes on the eve of a tour by a number of US -based scientists promoting " coexistence" of GE and conventional agriculture.

" New Zealand's biosecurity strategy must explicitly ban the introduction of Pharm crops or place at risk the basis of our economy," says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

The US authorities have recently had to destroy hundreds of hectares of food-crops after pharmaceutical-producing crops spread accidentally. Experimental GE pigs have also been accidentally sold into the food chain. And over a billion US dollars has been paid out in an attempt to clean out illegal GE crops that have contaminated human food.

"The management of "coexistence', despite what is being claimed by proponents, has been a series of disasters. New Zealand's economy benefits by billions from our clean, natural reputation

GE-Free NZ in food and environment want immediate action by the government to permanently ban pharm-crops of any kind from use outside full containment.

The Life Sciences Industry in New Zealand must also repudiate the use of Pharm crops as inherently damaging to New Zealand's international brand-image as well as public health and the environment.

" Industry must respect the wider societal issues that go beyond their claims of case-by-case safety assessment. This is big-picture stategic stuff impacting all New Zealanders," says Mr Carapiet.

"One Rangiora farmer's uninsured experimentation with a vaccine-producing crop could devastate our primary-production as seriously as a Mad Cow Disease," says Mr Carapiet.

The cost of clearing the Painted Apple Moth and other recent invaders is well over a NZ $100 million but this could easily be dwarfed by the damage from even one Pharm crop or a non-Pharm GE crop that contaminates conventional produce as has already happened overseas.

The lead agency for managing ' coexistence' -MAF has consistently shown inability to ensure this country's borders are protected by incursions of new organisms. This gives no confidence that the control of GE organisms will be achieved. Without industry agreeing to moderate their stance and accept responsibility for their products, New Zealand is being pushed toward economic disaster.

Contact Jon Carapiet
09 815 370

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