Conference Highlights Food Safety, Sustainable Agriculture
GE Free New Zealand
In Food And Environment Inc.
15 August, 2014
China Conference Highlights Food Safety and Sustainable Agriculture
The deleterious effects of GE foods and their related pesticides were aired at the Food Safety & Sustainable Agriculture Forum 2014, held in Beijing on July 25-26.
"China is taking a lead in assessing agricultural methods for local and imported foods, and GMOs are under intense scrutiny as to their safety,” said GE Free NZ president Claire Bleakley who attended the forum.
“China with over a billion people is taking safe food production very seriously and cleaning up its supply chain. There is a strong move toward sustainable agro-ecological methods of food production and processing, with significant implications for New Zealand producers and exporters."
A particular concern for food safety discussed in Beijing is the rising level of pesticides related to GMOs entering the food chain. 
The international conference included genetic researchers, university professors, medical doctors, veterinarians, livestock farmers, arable farmers, agricultural consultants, leaders and community groups from China, Taiwan, U.S.A, Russia, U.K., France, Denmark, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil and Peru. 
Dr. Vandana Shiva and Dr. Hans Herren talked about examples of existing food production systems for agro-ecological sustainability, with an emphasis on non-pesticide land use methods. The importance for seed diversity and the ability of such systems to provide long-term resilience in times of drought and flood was highlighted.
Agro-ecological methods increase yields and nutrition for those who are living in areas of weather extremes and where food can be scarce. It is also important for farmers to be able to retain sovereignty over their food systems by saving seeds that have acclimatised to specific growing conditions.
Dr. Shiva showed how successfully protecting seed diversity and organic systems provides resilience for farmers and communities. In India, GE crops have been a disaster for farmers especially those who embraced GE cotton in areas reliant on direct rainfall. Crop failure has led to disproportionate levels of farmer suicide.
Pig farmer, Mr. Ib Pedersen, fed his animals GM soy and found that the adverse effects heavily impacted his ability to farm economically. Animal health deteriorated to the extent that the animals were suffering from constant diarrhoea, irritability, and reproductive disorders leading to severe defects, congenital malformations, and death.
Mr. Gloeckner, dairy farmer, who was initially happy to trial GE corn on his stock, was shocked to find his animals died after eating the corn. He had to sell his farm and has been devastated economically and emotionally by this experience. Chinese investigative journalists reported similar stories from farmers in China.
Scientists from France and Australia and the USA reported on their animal research with GE foods with results showing severe gut inflammation, liver and kidney problems and tumour development.
The clinical report by Dr. Vazquez, paediatrician from Argentina, was chilling; his practice has seen a tripling in cancer rates, deformities, abortions and children born with tumours, Downs syndrome, and Spina bifida, all in areas where herbicide-tolerant GE crops are grown.
Zen Honeycutt, Moms across America, tested the levels of RoundUp residues (RoundUp’s active ingredient Glyphosate is a registered antibiotic), in the urine of mothers and children. She spoke of concern for the health of children and adults because of constant exposure to the antibiotic properties of RoundUp herbicides in GE food.
Dr. Stephanie Seneff presented her research into the link between glyphosate and autism, as well as increases in allergies, gut disorders and mineral deficiencies. 
“This growing body of scientific evidence of harm is shocking. The very seeds that have sustained people's health for millennia are now, because of GE foods, causing a lifetime of deformities and chronic disease," said Claire Bleakley.
“The deleterious effects of GE DNA may be worse than a nuclear catastrophe due to the long term persistence of the engineered genes in the environment causing intergenerational adverse effects on complex living systems."
Evidence discussed at the conference constitutes a direct warning for New Zealand.
The government, agricultural producers and exporters must heed the rising rejection of GE foods in markets such as China, and support New Zealand’s current GE-Free status by investing in agro-ecological, sustainable methods that support a safe food system.