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GM Crops Increase Pesticide Use

GE Free New Zealand In Food And Environment Inc.

GE Free New Zealand PRESS RELEASE –11.12.03

GM Crops Increase Pesticide Use

On the eve of the decision on field trial of GE Onions in New Zealand more proof has emerged of increased use of sprays with GE crops rather than the claimed reduction.

Dr. Charles Benbrook, director of the Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Center, a respected agricultural economist and past Executive Director of the US National Academy of Sciences board on Agriculture, Idaho (1984 to 1990), concludes that the 550 million acres of GM corn, soybeans and cotton planted in the US since 1996 has increased pesticide use (herbicides and insecticides) by about 50 million pounds. Dr Benbrook concluded that after an initial reduction, (first two years) in herbicide since 2000 it has risen creating herbicide resistance in weeds.

Herbicide tolerance is not limited to Roundup (the chemical to be used on the GE onions) but has spread to a wider range of herbicides, prompting farmers to switch to dangerous cocktails of older chemicals, with dangerous associated health and environmental effects.
This new data would lead to an immediate reassessment or expensive court action if ERMA does not look closer at the findings whilst making its final decisions.

The evidence put forward at the ERMA hearing in Christchurch showed that the risk to New Zealand economy, health and environment far outweighed any benefit. Organic farmers commercially grown onions command premium prices almost three times that of conventional onions, and New Zealand growers were already lowering pesticide use with integrated pest management (IPM).

Recent UK Farm Scale evaluations (FSE) have shown that GE crops are detrimental to wildlife and now the US data shows chemical use has increased by 50 million pounds.

"ERMA cannot allow this trial to proceed. Science has shown that GE crops are detrimental to the environment, consumers are averse to buying GE food and no health tests have been conducted. Seminis/ Monsanto are already having financial problems," said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment " ERMA must decline this application based on what is now known."

Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842

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