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GE onion trial is dead-end science, say Greens


GE onion trial is dead-end science, say Greens

The Green Party is vowing to fight any attempt to establish commercial GE onion crops for human consumption in New Zealand.

Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said that the Crop and Food GE onion trial approved today by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) is dead-end science.

"The big question surrounding this application has always been: what's next?" Ms Fitzsimons said. "Allowing this field test is like allowing mineral prospecting in a national park without considering the likely effects of allowing full-scale mining later.

"ERMA has said they did not consider any issues related to the consumption or marketing of this crop as it is not an application for release. But the trial makes no sense unless we intend to grow the onions commercially.

"There has only ever been one reason for developing Roundup tolerant crops - and that is to sell more Roundup. The really silly thing about the whole experiment is that organic growers are already producing - and successfully selling - onions without any herbicides. Where on earth is the consumer demand to eat Roundup-flavoured onions?"

"Crop and Food CEO, Paul Tocker had it right when he said 'Ultimately, it will be growers and consumers who will determine the future of these products.' The fact is, New Zealand shoppers and organic farmers have already spoken. Unfortunately, Crop and Food - and ERMA - haven't been listening."

ERMA has admitted one of the three main risks they considered was of unintended effects, and to reduce this the insertion of the new genetic material has been limited to two copies. "Yet they admit that nothing is known about the function of some of the DNA they have included - it has never been decoded. That means this onion could have unpredictable effects on health or the environment, just as we have always said."

Ms Fitzsimons predicted the 1500 submissions on the field trial would be nothing compared to the outrage that would greet any application for commercial release.

"We will oppose any attempt to grow these onions for human consumption on the basis that it would threaten our health and our environmental and economic well-being."

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