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GE Free Canterbury disappointed by ERMA Decision

GE Free Canterbury disappointed by ERMA Decision

GE Free Canterbury believe ERMA has failed to listen to the public or act in the country's best interests with its recent approval given to Crop and Food to field test genetically engineered onions. The decision comes after a public submissions hearing in early November, at which several members of GE Free Canterbury spoke.

'These onions are to be planted here, in our backyard, and yet they have absolutely no benefit to the people of Canterbury, or New Zealand. Why grow GE crops that people, both here and overseas, do not want to buy?' asked GE Free spokesperson Melanie White

'The report claims such potential benefits as; increased knowledge and retaining staff in New Zealand; Crop and Food being able to patent their genetically engineered onions; continued funding for Crop and Food. Such economically driven ÒbenefitsÓ represent a narrow focus and neglect GE free research alternatives where New Zealand can lead the way.'

'Meanwhile, the potential adverse effects are detailed and clearly stated; threats to the environment, human health, Maori culture, the economy and society, and from gene transfer and other "unanticipated" effects from the genetic engineering process. These all are apparently ignored.'

Although ERMA has put in place controls, GE Free Canterbury are unconvinced, given present scientific knowledge and overseas experience, that GE crops can be contained and pose no possible risk. Furthermore, it is the New Zealand public that will bear the burden of any such potential harmful effects, not just Crop and Food.

'This is a benchmark case for New Zealand, once we start planting genetically modified crops in our soils there is virtually no going back, and we lose the opportunity to be a GE free nation. As the report itself states, there are many unknowns and uncertainties, all of which are sidestepped to allow Crop and Food to grow genetically engineered onions resistant to Round - Up. GE Free Canterbury does not believe it is worth the gamble' said Ms White.

GE Free Canterbury will continue to campaign for a GE Free environment, and believe the fight is far from over. They have recently launched a petition to the Christchurch City Council asking that the city be declared GE Free.

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