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Call for Ministers to Visit Countries Growing GE

Press Release from PSRG - Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics

Released Thursday 9 October 2003, 15.15

PSRG is an independent organization with no political or industrial affiliations.

PSRG Call for Ministers to Visit Countries Growing GE Crops

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics endorse the Green Party's call for Ministers to visit Canada, and encourage them to visit Argentina as well.

In a recent letter, addressed to all Members of Parliament, PSRG suggested that an independently organized, investigative visit, by New Zealand MPs, to talk to farmers in Argentina, the USA and Canada, would substantiate the concerns of those wanting the moratorium reinstated. It would also be advisable for others to join them, such as representatives from local government, Federated Farmers and New Zealand's Crown Research Institutes.

Such a visit would show these representatives at first-hand the damage genetic engineering technology is inflicting on farmers in those countries: those growing transgenic crops as well as conventional and organic farmers. Both Canada and Argentina have found few if any benefits from growing transgenic crops. For the average farmer, there has been no gain at all.

Canadian farmers would be the first to deny that Canada is a model where transgenic and conventional crops happily co-exist. They don't. Buffer zones simply don't work. Even the vast acreages that separate Canadian transgenic crops from conventional crops have not stopped cross-pollination and contamination. In 2002, Australian scientists (Rieger et al) confirmed that canola pollen can travel considerable distances.

And not just major food crops are causing contamination. One study found transgenic material from GE potatoes in conventional potatoes 1.1 km from the trial crop. Perhaps most significant of all are reports that, not only are seed stocks contaminated, but "breeder" seed stocks are contaminated as well. The very nature of genetic engineering technology ensures transgenes are virulent; they come with a virtual guarantee of causing contamination.

British MP, Alan Simpson, recently visited Canada and talked to Canadian farmers who first found they were growing transgenic crops without knowing it, and then found themselves taken to court by Monsanto, the developer of the seed, for growing the crops illegally. By wind, rain, transport, animals, or whatever means, transgenes or seeds had found their way onto the farms unbeknown to the farmers.

An independently organized, investigative visit, by New Zealand MPs, to talk to farmers in Argentina, the USA and Canada, would bring common-sense into the debate and would ensure that the moratorium would be reinstated.

(383 words)

Contact: Secretary, PSRG, 440a Otumoetai Road, Tauranga; tel or fax 64 7 576 5721; roberta@clear.net.nz.

Spokespersons: Dr Paul Butler, tel 09 410 4707; Dr John Clearwater, tel 09 828 3339; Dr Peter Wills, tel 09 373 7599, Ext 88889.

ENDS

Jean Anderson Secretary Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics www.psrg.org.nz

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