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Greenpeace: Crop & Food don't know their onions

Crop & Food don’t know their onions!

Auckland, Friday 22 August 2003: Greenpeace expressed surprise today on finding that Crop and Food Lincoln seem confused about the taxonomic classification of the common onion (Allium cepa L.).

In its application to field trial onions genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, Crop and Food incorrectly refer to Alliaceae as a genus (1). In fact the genus onion belongs to is Allium and the family is Alliaceae. This is a glaring error of botanical nomenclature, particularly for a research institute focussed on plant sciences.

“This inaccuracy highlights a general shoddiness in the application, which reads like a PR exercise by Monsanto,” says Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel.

“It has other inaccuracies and assumptions that lead it to conclude a blue sky of ideal outcomes for GE onions, without addressing any of the known negative impacts and risks of Roundup resistant GE crops.”

Greenpeace has submitted that ERMA should decline the GE onion application because it poses unnecessary and unquantifiable risks to New Zealand’s economy, environment and public health and has no benefits.

Greenpeace challenges the claim that Roundup resistant GE onions will reduce herbicide use, when Roundup Ready GE crops in the US and Canada have lead to increased herbicide use and the use of older more toxic herbicides to combat ‘superweeds’.

Further, there is already a successful and burgeoning organic onion industry in New Zealand with zero synthetic herbicide use which is gaining significant premiums on onion exports to the UK.

The UK, Europe and Japan are New Zealand’s biggest onion markets and are very resistant to GE produce. “Why should the NZ taxpayer be supporting the development of an GE food crop that our export markets don’t want and 80 per cent of New Zealander’s think shouldn’t be growing here?” (2)

“Instead of GE crops, Crop and Food should be investing more in development of GE- free biological technologies and techniques for improving and expanding organic production”.

For a copy of the full Greenpeace submission please go to

For further information please contact Steve Abel, Greenpeace GE Campaigner on 021 565 175 or Glyn Walters, Campaign Manager on 021 772 661.

* P 30 of the Crop and Food application.

* 80 per cent of respondents say NZ should remain a GM-free food producer at least until our export markets accept GM food, Colmar Brunton, July 2003.

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