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GE Onion Trial Justification Outdated & Overtaken

GE Onion Trial Justification Outdated And Overtaken

Statement made by David Warrick, Managing Director, Certified Organics Limited

Crop and Food Research’s application to field trial GE onions should be declined as their research is based on “outdated” crop management techniques “overtaken” by new herbicide product development.

A main argument Crop and Food is making to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) for proceeding with GE onion trials is that weed control in relation to onion growing is an “intractable problem” requiring the use of environmentally unfriendly glyphosphate (Roundup) herbicides.

This position is redundant given last year’s approval by ERMA for the commercial use of the New Zealand developed herbicide, Organic Interceptor™.

Organic Interceptor™ is certified as an organic herbicide, eliminates all the weeds identified by Crop and Food in its application as a “problem”, and can be used prior to and during the growth period of onions.

The use of Organic Interceptor™ will achieve all the environmental and commercial aims put forward by Food and Crop to justify it application. If that is possible through traditional horticultural methods, then there is no need to release GE onions from the laboratory.

Certified Organics has made a submission to ERMA objecting to the field trials.

As a company we have a neutral position on GE. However, we are pointing out to ERMA that the grounds on which the application is being made are not valid.

In addition to achieving the same weed kill as glyphospate, Organic Interceptor™ has the added advantage of being a certified organic product. It is also manufactured in New Zealand, not imported.

Currently, organic onions on average receive a 3 to 4 times price margin on onions exposed to chemical herbicides.

At present, only 1% of New Zealand’s onion crop is organic. If New Zealand onion growers were to increase this percentage to 5% (similar to that achieved by the kiwifruit industry), the value of our onion export crop could be increased by some $14 million to $110 million.

If ERMA allows the trial to proceed, it is ignoring that there is a practical, cost effective, non GE answer to the problems the applicants say justify the GE trial.

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