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Mobilise Against Imperialist Genetic Plunder

Mobilise Against Imperialist Genetic Plunder

Statement from the Communist Party of Aotearoa October 26, 2001 http://home.clear.net.nz/pages/cpa

The Communist Party is urging the broadest mobilisation against the push by US transnationals to turn Aotearoa into a testing ground for genetic experiments as the Clark regime weighs up options over the next week.

Giant transnationals such as Monsanto are seeking to test dangerous cross-species experiments in the isolated environment provided by the islands of Aotearoa. This foreign pillage of the local ecosystem is being supported by local farming and bio-science interests who see the opportunity for small fortunes from a stake in this work. NZ dairy farmers’ own transnational corporation Fonterra is threatening job losses if the Clark regime does not allow field trials of GE technology.

The people of Aotearoa have demonstrated that they are not coerced by these threats and are not fooled by the hollow claims of the transnationals that they seek to serve humanity by eradicating disease and hunger. The people have demonstrated in their tens of thousands and our ranks will only grow if the Clark regime capitulates to the transnational agenda and risks the spread of GE organisms into the environment.

The commercial development of GE technology follows a familiar pattern of profit-oriented

technology proving a disaster for both the environment and society. The profit goal is evident in the types of plants being developed; soya beans and cotton with brand name herbicide resistance does not improve the plant itself, it just allows Monsanto to sell more herbicide.

Leaving the development of these technologies to private commercial interests is like playing with a loaded gun. Dangerous technologies, such as the nuclear industry, have been repeatedly unleashed because their development has been in the hands of profit-driven institutions rather than in the hands of society as a whole.

Government regulation of corporate technologies has been ineffective because the regulators have the same interest in commercial development. New Zealand bioscientists were found widely violating the very lax regulations laid down by ERMA. The Australia-New Zealand Food Authority do not undertake independent testing of genetically modified organism but instead rely on information supplied by companies such as Monsanto. US Food and Drug Administration staff responsible for monitoring Monsanto have been identified as simultaneously engaged in paid research for the company.

The large transnationals at the forefront of commercialising this technology have a history of violating regulations and covering up their infringments. Monsanto has been repeatedly fined for presenting tampered data to regulators and covering up accidental contamination. Aventis dumped genetically modified canola in an open landfill in Mount Gambier, South Australia, in contravention of federal regulations. A US Environmental Protection Agency amnesty uncovered 11,000 such violations from a range of companies.

The repeated exposure of environmental and social damage from the capitalistic development of technology has led the US transnationals and their allies to attempt to disguise their profit quest as a beneficial mission for humanity.

The corporations claim that genetic engineering will ‘feed the world’. But there is already sufficient food to feed everyone; people starve because they are poor, because they have been pushed off their land as transnational corporations set up plantations and so that “cash crops”, like coffee and cocoa, can be grown to satisfy the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This is a repeat of the “Green Revolution” in the 1960s, which shifted agriculture worldwide from sustainable, organic bases to totally non-sustainable chemical farming. It did not produce more food; it displaced more peasants. It bonded Third World countries into permanent debt, to pay for the chemicals imported from the transnationals. First the transnationals sold framers chemicals. Then they sold seeds that require the chemicals. Now they are creating herbicide-resistant GE varieties like “RoundupReady” soy to profit further. Around 40 per cent of world seed production is controlled by 10 transnationals, while half of US grain production is from Monsanto’s GE seed.

Far from being “high yield”, according to the US National Academy of Sciences, these new GE crops are 6-10% lower than conventional varieties, possibly because the plants use energy less efficiently. The crops are more profitable for the corporations, however. Additionally they encourage the use of even more herbicides as the weeds become herbicide-resistant. In many US GE farms, herbicide use is 10 times larger than on farms using integrated weed management systems. GE crops make farmers even more dependent on transnational agribusinesses like Monsanto.

Biotech companies claim that genetic engineering is so precise that a gene producing a particular trait can be identified and this gene can then be placed into the DNA of the new cell, which will then have this trait. In reality, GE technology involves “shotgunning” particles into the cells or using inactivated viruses to transport the genetic material into the host cell. The outcome is very unpredictable. This puts a lie to the claims of regulation authorities, such as the Australia and New Zealand Food Authority, that their testing methods consist of a “rigorous safety assessment process”.

The transfer of human genes into other animals and vice versa, already practiced by NZ scientists, raises not only safety concerns but major ethical and cultural concerns that have barely been considered.

No one really knows whether GE foods are safe or not -- so little work has been done on this and even less has been released to the public. Some of the few published studies, such as the impact of GE potatoes on rats, have identified toxic effects and gene transfer to unrelated organisms.

One thing is certain. The frantic race to commercialise GE technology offers the potential of huge profits to the transnationals and those hanging on to their coat tails. This is not the fist time the transnationals have plundered the lands and lives of remote peoples. In the competitive struggle for profit the lives of ordinary people are of minor concern.

For further information contact: Robert Hanson cpa@nzoom.com

ENDS


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