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People Gather For A Ge-Free Nation

42 Towns And Cities Across The Country. People Gather For A Ge-Free Nation

July 27: At 12 noon, in more than 42* towns and cities across the country, New Zealanders are gathering to show the Government they want a GE-Free nation. The nationwide gatherings are being held to mark the handover of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification to the Government.

Rose Webber, coordinator of the Tauranga gathering, says: "We're gathering because we want to celebrate what we hope will be a positive outcome from the Commissions findings. New Zealand is perhaps one of the last countries in the world where it is still possible that GE can be kept out of our environment."

>From Nelson, Susie Lees of GE-Free NZ says, "Aware of the overwhelming evidence of the potential for unpredictable and irreversible effects of GMOs on both public health and environmental sustainability, people in over 42 towns and cities are urging both government and local bodies to hear the voice of the public and respond appropriately."

Hawkes Bay organiser Kay Keates comments, " Remaining GE Free is particularly important for Hawke's Bay because the region economy depends on agriculture and horticulture. 10% of pipfruit growers in Hawke's Bay are now producing crops organically, the organic industry here in Hawke's Bay is worth 10 million dollars and still in its infancy. Growers cannot keep up with the demand both locally and globally."

Since the commission process closed, many new cases confirm that GE must not be released in the environment. Says Annette Cotter of Greenpeace New Zealand "These cases include breaches of containment from GE canola field trials in Western Australia, and massive recalls in Japan when food was found to be contaminated with unapproved genetically engineered potato. Most NZers don't want GE in our country and this is reflected by many people, today at town halls around the country, calling for a GE free New Zealand."

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For further comments: Seager Mason, Bio-Gro, tel: 025 274 7435; Annette Cotter, Greenpeace NZ, tel: 0251-565175, and Susie Lees, GE-Free NZ, 03-546 7966 For contact details of spokespeople around the country, go to http://www.gefree.net.nz or contact Stephanie Howard at 021 1625 669.

* As this release goes out, news of more rallies in other locations around the country is coming in.

-- To follow: A two-page list of what's on around the country.--

The Coalition for a GE-Free Environment Aotearoa New Zealand is calling for genetically engineered organisms to be kept in the lab. Its member organisations are GE-Free NZ, Green Party, Greenpeace New Zealand, Soil and Health Association, the Safe Food Campaign, Jews for GE-Free Food, Bio-Gro, the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association in New Zealand, and Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO).

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Nationwide GE-Free Rally, July 27 RoundUp _______________________________________

These are some of the activities in the 42 towns and cities involved in today's nationwide rally. Contact details for all 42 rallies are at http://www.gefree.net.nz. All action will run from noon - 1pm (unless otherwise stated).

Auckland Aucklanders for a GE Free NZ will gather at the Auckland Town Hall at noon on Friday. There will be GE-Free Feast with food provided by Musical Knives and fruit provided by Ceres organics. Attendess, including Green MP Nandor Tanczos and Channel Z's Bomber will be calling on the Government to secure a GE Free future for NZ. Contact Russel Norman, 09- 377 0149

Central Hawkes Bay, Waipawa / Waipukurau At noon, a gathering will be held on the front steps of the Waipawa Town Hall, under the banner "GE-Free NZ". Several people will speak on GE including Dr Michael Sargent GP, Adrian White - Organic Chicken Farmer, Andrew Seager - Commercial Biodynamic Vegetable Grower. The Mayor of Central Hawkes Bay - Hamish Kynoch - will also be attending in his capacity as Mayor. Contact: Warwick Mather, 06-857 8080, mountview@paradise.net.nz

Christchurch Midday rally outside the Cathedral at noon will feature a lunchtime concert, speakers and stalls, and a donation of GE-free food will be made to a local food bank. Contact: Paul de Spa, 03-389 2938; pdespa@paradise.net.nz

Colville Colville people will be gathering outside the Colville hall with a banner. Contact: Fred Look, 07-866-6877; bree@wave.co.nz

Dunedin At Dunedin's rally on the Town Hall steps in the Upper Octagon, speakers include representatives from the Dunedin Environment Centre, te Runanga O Otakau, the Green Party, Animal Watch Aotearoa, and The Otago University Chaplaincy. Hugh Campbell, from Otago University Anthropology Department, will speak on the negative impact that GE has for New Zealand primary producers and exporters. There will also be performances, and samples of local organic produce. Contact: Duncan Eddy, 03-477 5184; 025 719 139

Hawkes Bay Napier and Hastings Councils will be invited to give serious consideration to the idea of declaring Napier and Hastings cities GE Free on a symbolic level. The request is supported by the GE Free Hawke's Bay petition, presented to council representatives (hopefully the Mayors) on that day at 12.15pm. Dean Hyde, Hastings District Councillor has confirmed his attendance at the Hastings rally to receive the petition. Contact: Kay Keates or Odile Balas, 06 835 0141

Hamilton Gathering in Civic Square between the hours of 11.00 am - 2.00pm, with speakers from Hamilton Safe Food, the University of Waikato and the Green Party. Contact: Barry Bryant, 021 893 753

Levin and Kapiti Coast A GE-Free petition from the region will be presented. There will be speakers and music. Contact: Billy McKee 06 368 8181 or Barbara Mountier 04 905 8149

Motueka Locals will steer a coffin, with the question "What will we bury - our safe food and environment, or uncontained GE?" up and down the main street, while a piper pipes his tune. There will be a stall in front of the (main street) museum, with speakers, hot (GE Free) soup, and information. Contact: Wendy Cave, cavefamily@xtra.co.nz.

Nelson Gathering at the council offices will celebrate New Zealand's current GE-Free status and show solidarity with the rest of the country. Butterflies and sweetcorn will be the focus of the action, monarchs having been affected by genetically engineered Bt sweetcorn varieties may well be affected here in New Zealand too, if contaminated varieties, and which may already be entering the country are grown. Contact: Susie Lees, 03-546 7966

Taupo Locals will gather under a banner of a butterfly painted by local children. Contact: Megan Marshall, 07-378 8801; gbwhitby@xtra.co.nz

Tauranga Meeting at Mid City Mall, people will be wearing green and brown -the colours of the earth. NZ Clean Green and GE Free. Contact: Rose Webber, 07-578 4388.

Thames In Thames, people are congregating at the the Memorial Hall. There will be GE free soup and buns given away to the public; music, and speakers. Contact: Rosemary Segedin, 025-873 033

Timaru A gathering with speakers from local interest groups. Contact: Debbie Martin, 03-693-9001

Upper Hutt Gathering with a "Toot Support for a GE-Free nation" from passing motorists. Contact: Meg Craigie, 04-9711 794.

Waihi Local people will congregate outside the Memorial Hall in the main street. Contact: Stephen Benner 021-500 977

Wanaka Soulfood Organics will be providing 100% Organic 'Soulsoup' and a basket of Fruit for sale. There will be a public soapbox so for people to say a few words about our hopes and aspirations for a GE Free Nation. Then people will then walk to the Queenstown Lakes District Council office in town and hand to the Community Board a letter asking them to adopt a GE Free policy for Wanaka. A "GE-Free Nation" banner at a prominent location. Contact: Paul Earnshaw, 025 245 8072.

Wellington At Parliament, Jeanette Fitzsimons, co-leader of the Greens, and Seager Mason, chief executive of Bio-Gro New Zealand will speak to the rally. Baskets of organic produce have been prepared for Ministers Sutton, Hodgson, Hobbs and King, and the Prime Minister. Contact: Stephanie Howard, 021 1652669

Whangarei At Whangarei District Council/Forum North, the Mayor has been invited to receive 6,000+ signatures on the local antiGE petition (no GE field trials or commercial crops- keep it in the lab!). A map of Northland will show all the organic farms in the District to demonstrate how the release of GE directly threatens the quality primary production and growing organic industry. There will be speakers from GE FREE NORTHLAND, local iwi and the Green Party. Contact: Zelka Grammer 09-4322155.

Ends

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