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A scientist's calls Unacceptable

A scientist's calls for allowing low-level GE Contamination in all conventional and organic agriculture is " unacceptable" , as a denial of choice and the most serious long-term biosecurity threat facing this country.

A system that can control the spread of GE crops must be able to guarantee 100% separation or it will risk the future of the New Zealand economy and public health.

Visiting professor Professor Patrick Byrne has signalled the central issue facing all countries not yet widely contaminated with GM material:is how much contamination is OK.

As there are different types of GE crops- the issue is one of choice, safety and good regulation . All GE material - because of its very nature, ( such as universally-active viral promoters, and antibiotic resistant gene sequences) must be subject to management and control.

" It is not a debate about 100% safety, but the proposal that we must have 100% contamination.... nothing will be GE-Free," says Jon Carapiet, spokeperson for GE Free NZ in food and environment.

" Universal low-level contamination is unacceptable to civil society."

The Rangiora farmer considering planting pharmaceutical plants in New Zealand, highlights how imperative a system that can achieve 100% separation and prevent wide contamination of " a little bit of GE" is going to be.

In his talk Professor Byrne warned on the stacking of genes, cross pollination from a variety of GE crops and said that it is not acceptable for farmers to plant these crops seeds. This is because they bring in traits that are not needed and could add to the degradation of the environment and diversity. He was very supportive of the organic methods of pest and weed control and made it clear that he was asked to look only at co-existence and pollen spread.

His conclusion was that there will need to be acceptance of 100% contamination to a small degreee, in conventional and organic agriculture. .

He also said that pro-GE corporates need to recognise risks to the environment. and for the conventional and organic opponents to GE "Zero tolerance is too stong a principle to hold".

"It is infuriating to hear a man of his expertise advocating that organic standards, that grow and protect the environment with the highest sustainable standards, should compromise their principles and accept an un-tested, environmentally unstable seed production and corporate control ideal" said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ)

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