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GE Tree "Safety" Claims Misleading

GE Tree "Safety" Claims Misleading

2 May 2008 - GE Free NZ (in food and environment)

Reports that research on GE trees by Scion has proved them 'safe' are highly misleading, and obscure the serious risks posed to New Zealand.

The NZ Herald and Radio New Zealand are amongst the media covering the story that Scion had found no harm to soil organisms, insects or the environment in their Rotorua field trials.

But the research did not address a range of serious risks that GE pine plantations present, including loss of exports because of unsustainable forestry practices, contamination of New Zealand honey, and the spread of "wilding' GE pines.

"It is wrong for the media to trumpet the suggestion of 'all clear' for GE trees when in fact the finding show nothing of the sort," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

There is a well-funded program of propaganda aimed at singing the praises of GE, including how it will feed the world, and reduce chemical use. Yet the UN has clearly rejected claims that GM crops will solve the issues of global hunger, and commercial GE uses overseas shows reduced yields and increased use of chemicals that can disrupt natural systems.

In the case of the Scion story, the researchers and the media have ignored serious threats to New Zealand, and promoted the impression GE trees are 'safe'. But commercial-scale monocultures of GE trees would have the potential for much greater harmful impacts, including:

- Disruption of beneficial insect populations, wildlife and soil heath over time

- Contamination of New Zealand honey by GE pollen, making it unacceptable to our premium export markets

- Further spread of "wilding' pines, with GE elements

- Contagion of New Zealand's international brand image, including loss of sustainable timber production certification by the Forest Stewardship Council which excludes GE trees.

There is also currently an international call by civil society environmental groups and NGO's for the UN to take action against the rush to spread GE trees into the environment.

The global risk is that commercial forestry interests will see profits in destroying the biodiversity of natural forests and replacing them with 'improved' GE monocultures with disastrous results.

ENDS

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