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GE Wheat A Backward Step For New Zealand

A move to grow genetically-engineered wheat in New Zealand is a backward step and could affect future trade, Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street said today.

The United States-based food and chemical giant Monsanto has applied to grow the herbicide-resistant wheat in Canterbury.

"We must remember with wheat that we are talking about the main ingredient to one of our key staple foods - bread," Mr Ewen-Street said. "Most New Zealanders, and indeed most consumers in other countries, do not want their bread genetically engineered so I wonder why we are going down this path.

"Genetic engineering is a technology for which overseas markets are collapsing and for which there is serious doubt about long-term human health," Mr Ewen-Street said.

"The financial security of genetic engineering is also becoming dubious, and I would like to warn people that GE corporations (especially Monsanto) are in trouble financially, with Deutsche Bank advising investors to sell shares because of the huge consumer resistance to genetically engineered food."

Mr Ewen-Street, a Marlborough-based organic farmer, said New Zealand should be asking the question, through a Royal commission of inquiry into genetic engineering, "Is this really progress?"

"It would be a grave mistake to assume that the only option for scientific progress in agriculture is in genetic engineering.

"Organic production makes dollars and sense. Consumer demand for organic products far exceeds the present supply. For example, the Tesco supermarket chain (the largest in the UK) has seen its organic product sales increase in value from five million pounds annually three years ago to over 100 million pounds this year. Predictions for next year indicate sales of 150 million pounds.

"Similarly, the NZ Organic Products Exporters Group reports spectacular growth in demand for NZ organic products."


ENDS

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