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"Scare tactics" accusations over GE seed

15.8.02

Industry lobbyists accused of "scare tactics" over GE seed and threatening consumer choice. Destruction of contaminated seed a waste that 'leaves blood' on industry hands. National audit needed.

The biotechnology companies who claimed GM crops can be kept separate from non GE crops are to blame for the most recent contamination of corn in New Zealand, and some in the industry have mislead people by claiming to support 'Choice'. Forcing thresholds of contamination will no longer give consumers the right to eat GE-Free food.

The destruction of contamniated seed is a terrible waste made necessary by industry claims to "manage the risks" and prevent contamination. With hunger facing Southern Africa, and those countries also pleading for GM-Free food, those companies that has caused the contamination worldwide stand condemned with blood on their hands.

The government must act now by undertaking a full audit of what crops are and are not GE contaminated.MAF must extend the zero tolerance on GE seed to a wider range of crops.

Industry claimed at the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification that GM and GM-Free production could coexist allowing people to choose to avoid GM. Now- even though no GM crops are grown commercially in New Zealand industry are claiming they cannot do that, and that it is too late.

"Some in the Life Sciences industry now want to deny everyone any choice by forcing acceptance of a threshold of contamination," says GE-Free NZ spokesperson Jon Carapiet.

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" It's like saying consumers must accept a "little bit" of foot and mouth disease, or "a little bit of" asbestos and leaves them no choice. Within a year of promising one thing they are saying the opposite."

" The Royal Commission seems to have been lied to. The Commission recommended that the government help with labelling for "GE-Free" foods, and industry said they backed the right for people to choose. They now say is "impossible" without closing the border. Is that scaremongering PR spin or is it true?"

GE-Free NZ (in food and environment) believes an audit and a full inquiry are needed. Industry must state which other crops they think will be most likely to be contaminated and these must be given priority by MAF. If these products are too contaminated with illegal GE constructs to label 'GE-Free' the companies will have to pay.

"Are they claiming it is all too late for GE-Free food-production in New Zealand, and for our exports to benefit from that claim? That is a loss of billions of dollars".

"Companies must own up and say what other crops may be affected by GM. The government must fund MAF to conduct a national audit We know crops like wheat, stone fruits , olives and avocados are all GE-Free in New Zealand. What are the others?"

ENDS Contact Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370


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