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GE Onions application should be withdrawn

GE Onions application should be withdrawn.

The GE onions proposed in an application to ERMA could risk increasing disease including cancer because of the bacteria used to engineer them. This application should be withdrawn until sufficient scientific and medical research is completed in the laboratory.

“There are serious questions concerning lack of markets, possible harm caused by the imprecise GE technique itself, and the absence of laboratory data on links to cancer that need to be answered before field trials can even be considered,” says Jon Carapiet for GE Free NZ in food and environment.

“Until the medical effects of such products are properly studied and the impact on soil from similar experiments overseas or in a laboratory have been properly assessed, it is wrong to push for a field trial in New Zealand. Where are these comprehensive studies and why have the results not been published?”

Markets at Risk

Trade NZ - EXPORTS reports that in 2001 New Zealand exported 183,000 tonnes of onions valued at $97 million to major markets like the UK, Germany, Japan. But these are the very markets likely to be lost and where GE products are widely rejected.

The lack of demand for GE onions was identified by the Royal Commission on GM who said this type of crop “has little to offer New Zealand.” The Commission did not consider that the limited uses justify the environmental risk to New Zealand and warned against the loss of pure-seed production by contamination.

Infection of Human Cells

Independent scientists have warned that Agrobacterium tumefaciens used in the GE process can infect human cells and not just plant cells as scientists previously believed. Until quite recently, the GE community had assumed that this bacteria does not infect animal cells, and certainly would not transfer genes into them. However, this has been proved wrong. A paper published in 2001 reports that T-DNA can be transferred to the chromosomes of human cancer cells.

Glyphosate and non-Hodgkins lymphoma

The risk of other diseases could also rise because of the increased levels of chemical residues from glyphosate in products that survive the spray. Roundup may appear relatively benign, but research increasingly suggests it is harmful to health and environment. A population-based study conducted in Sweden links exposure to glyphosate to non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Biotech companies marketing herbicide-resistant GE crops have applied for up to 200 times the previous level of glyphosate residue in human food.

GE Free NZ in food and environment believe these issues need to be addressed, not ignored.

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