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Native Tree Plan Shows Positive Face of Scion’s Research

Native Tree Plan Shows Positive Face of Scion’s Research

The commercial propagation of indigenous trees in Ngati Whare’s new nursery in Minginui is an exciting development for all New Zealand and shows the benefits of ethical research that does not require release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms into the environment. [1]

Scion has been helping with the project by developing vegetative cuttings using leading edge technology that reflects community values. Ngati Whare and Scion are to be congratulated. This shows the acceptable face of Scion's work and does not involve transgenic organisms or genetic engineering. Scion had earlier success with the propagation of seeds from the rare taonga plant Ngutukākā (white kaka beak), which have been planted on the ancestral lands of Ngāti Kohatu and Ngāti Hinehika. [2]

This work offers a new direction for Scion that fits with community expectations and shows that there is more to science than commercial interests pushing for release of genetically engineered organisms. Scion has doggedly persisted in promoting and trialling GE trees that lack commercial viability due to the magnitude of long-term systemic risks they pose to the environment, human health, and soil ecosystems.

In contrast to its work to sustain native trees, Scion promotes GE trees that are resistant to the herbicide ammonium glufosinate (Busta) and have had their reproductive traits altered.

“We need to protect native forests and to defend the rights of forest dependent communities and Indigenous Peoples against the uncontrollable and irreversible threats posed by the release of genetically engineered trees,” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ. "GE trees threaten native forests, remove food for the insects and birds and advance the use toxic herbicides that kill ecosystems and damage the soil. Together, the effect will be to drive forests into becoming silent cemeteries and dead zones.”

Minister Dr. Smith is aggressively seeking to enact legislation that will remove Councils’ right to place precautionary policies on the growing of GM trees in their regions. [3] Scion’s influence on inserting the GE clauses to National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) [4] that override councils GE free zones shows that its interests directly conflict with the very environmental sustainability it should be promoting.

"This native tree project between Scion and Ngati Whare will help advance Aotearoa’s forests and preserve our beautiful native trees. It is an exciting and valuable use of New Zealand research money, but should not be used as a bribe to allow commercialisation of Scion’s GE projects, or to justify forestry being allowed to destabilise complex natural ecosystems.” said Claire Bleakley.

[1] http://www.scionresearch.com/general/publications/scion-connections/previous-issues/past-issues-list/issue-18,-december-2015/precious-indigenous-plant-begins-new-future
[2] http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11702838
[3] http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11703046
[4] http://press.gefree.org.nz/press/20160730.htm

ENDS

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