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Call for NZ ban on Pharmaceutical crops

Call for NZ ban on Pharmaceutical crops- 100% separation unachievable

New Zealand should ban pharmaceutical crops outright to prevent a serious threat to public health.

The call follows announcements in the US that more pharmaceutical-crops are to be released despite growing alarm amongst US Grocery manufacturers after earlier contamination accidents.

So called “pharming”- using crops and animals to produce pharmaceuticals- has already been promoted to New Zealand farmers by the biotech industry as an exciting new profit source. GE Free New Zealand believes any moves to introduce pharm-crops here could destroy our reputation for producing safe food and thus undermine our national economy.

“In the US already, hundreds of hectares of food crops had to be destroyed because of contamination by GE corn used to produce a vaccine. Until there are systems to guarantee 100% separation – even from insects and soil - these kinds of crops must never be allowed in New Zealand”, says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

“It is also our government’s duty to oppose release of such crops overseas too and thus prevent a global contamination problem,” Mr. Carapiet says.

The issue of ‘Pharming’ animals has already raised public concern and the contamination of GE-free food by existing GE variants is a growing problem for soy, maize and canola. The threat from new “pharm” GM crops goes beyond denial of basic rights and loss of markets, presenting a significant threat to public health.

It is vital regulators around the world develop systems to ensure 100% separation of all GM crops from conventional production systems. Until this happens no release of experimental GE crops should go ahead.

Unfortunately efforts to ensure segregation are already failing and the biotech- industry lobby is promoting mandatory acceptance of such contamination.

The idea of forcing consumers around the world to accept thresholds of GE contamination is an outrageous attack on basic rights. By pushing on with “Pharm crops” the biotech industry are increasing the likelihood of significant food contamination and public health incidents.

Even low levels of contamination can be lethal, as the death of scores of people from GE L-Tryptophan has shown. The Royal Commission on GM found that the death and maiming of thousands of people had been caused by a contaminant in the product that was still deemed 99.9% pure: a standard exceeding levels of “acceptable contamination” being lobbied for today.

GE Free New Zealand believe it unethical to force people to accept contamination by GE constructs such as viral promoters and anti-biotic resistance genes – or even vaccines such as hepatitis.

The New Zealand government should move to ban release of any such crops and oppose their release in other countries at international fora.

The international trade in food makes all nations vulnerable to mistakes in other countries. A global halt to GE releases pending a system to ensure 100% segregation is the only option, and the New Zealand government- as a responsible global citizen-.should advocate such a ban.

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