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The Govt's focus on the environment welcomed by GE-Free NZ

The Government's focus on the environment is welcomed by GE-Free NZ.

The new government's focus on the environment is a boost for the future of Brand New Zealand and is welcomed by GE-Free NZ.

Cleaning up the environment and focusing on agro-ecological farming is imperative in order to provide safe and healthy food. This underpins the consumer appeal of our exports and reflects the shared values of communities at home.

Experiences overseas where GE crops have been approved, show New Zealand has been well served by keeping GMOs out of our environment.

It is important that we preserve New Zealand’s GE free status especially as the latest research links GE crops and their pesticides as significant factors in the decline of insects.

The massive declines in non-target insects in the United States, mainly the bee and Monarch butterfly populations [1], have also been confirmed in Europe. Hallman et al [2] found a 75% decline in insect population of bees, moths, and butterflies over the last 27 years, and this decline has strong links to the use of neonicotinoids and glyphosate pesticides.

These insects are essential for pollination of food crops and are a vital food source for birds.

Genetically engineered crops have been part of unsustainable agricultural intensification and have led to the overuse of pesticides.

Last year the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved two neonicotinoid insecticides, one for seed coating and the other for use in orchards, even though EPA admitted the insecticides were dangerous to children and adolescents.

Europe has banned the use of toxic neonicotinoid insecticides that have been identified as one of the main factors for the insect decline

New Zealand could be facing a similar collapse of vital insects for pollination, as well as facing serious chemical toxicity in animals and humans from exposure to glyphosate based herbicides.

“The new government must address the rejection of sustainable farming methods by its predecessor, which has allowed inappropriate intensification of farming, heavy use of glyphosate based herbicides in burn-down practices, and the sowing of neonicotinoid coated grass and crop seeds,” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.

It is time regulators stop relying on industry-supplied information and look seriously at the independent studies showing evidence of harm to entire ecosystems.

“Now is the chance for the New Zealand government to reinstate a moratorium on commercialisation of GMOs and to ensure our GE Free advantage is maintained," said Ms. Bleakley.

[1] Thogmartin WE et al. 2017 Monarch butterfly population decline in North America: identifying the threatening processes. R. Soc. open sci. 4: 170760.

[2] Hallmann CA, Sorg M, Jongejans E, Siepel H, Hofland N, Schwan H, et al. (2017) More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas. PLoS ONE12(10): e0185809.

[3] Exposure to Glyphosate, Chemical Found in Weed Killers, Increased Over 23 Years https://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/Pages/2017-10-24-exposure-to-glyphosate-chemical-found-in-weed-killer-increased-over-23-years.aspx

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