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Fonterra blackmail on GE release unacceptable


14 September 2001

Fonterra blackmail on GE release unacceptable

Green Party Agriculture spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street said today that Fonterra's threat to pull their research from New Zealand was blatant blackmail which would harm the company's image here and overseas.

In a release today, Fonterra threatened to withdraw their research operations from New Zealand unless the Government allows commercial releases of genetically engineered organisms to go ahead.

"This is a prime example of a giant corporate attempting to undermine the democratic process, and it's unacceptable," said Mr Ewen-Street. "It's beyond me why Fonterra are fighting so hard for the commercial release of genetic engineering, when none of their customers want to buy genetically engineered products."

"I challenge them to provide evidence of just one genetically engineered dairy product in just one of our main overseas markets that consumers actually want to buy.

"Only a month ago Fonterra said they took their name because it was associated with 'natural purity and the quality of products that flow from our land'.

"I'd love to know how they can justify this name in the light of their commitment to commercial release of genetically engineered crops, animals or other organisms. I can guarantee that our overseas markets think that genetic engineering is the opposite of natural purity."

Mr Ewen-Street said the Dairy Board had made a bad commercial decision in 1999 to invest $150 million into genetic engineering research, and Fonterra was digging themselves deeper into the hole.

"There is a great deal of laboratory-based research, including some genetic engineering technologies, that could improve the quality and production of herds and grass. If the Dairy Board had stuck to this kind of research, the industry wouldn't be in this kind of panic mode now.

"The Dairy Board totally misread the strength of consumer opposition to genetically engineered foods*. Fonterra are now trying to force the whole country to come to its rescue.

"All the success of the New Zealand dairy industry has been based on our clean green reputation.

"For every scientist who leaves New Zealand to develop genetically engineered cows or grass for release into our farms, there will be at least another one who is attracted here for the intellectual challenge of sustainable non-GE farming."

* A survey for the Royal Commission found that 73 percent of people are against genetically engineered food.

ENDS


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