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National interest in protecting GE-free food

GE Free New Zealand
www.gefree.org.nz

GE Free NZ 23.9.03 - Press release

Otago GE research confirms national interest in protecting GE-free food supply despite its flawed conclusions.

An Otago Business School study into food manufacturer concerns about quality of supplies confirms the need to protect 100% GE-Free production in New Zealand and adds weight to the call for an extension on the moratorium on GE release.

However the study is seriously flawed in concluding that delivering the reality of GE-Free high-quality products is somehow different from preserving the "clean green image" which the study suggests is less important for New Zealand.

Such a conclusion plays into the hands of the Life Sciences Lobby group who would willingly sacrifice GE-Free production to ensure GE 'coexistence', and are promoting GE-release based on 1% thresholds of contamination.

"This study confirms that the government must require the preservation and protection of GE free production by law.”

" ERMA must be required to prevent the kind of contamination found in corn imports from becoming a daily occurrence as the price for co-existence of GE products," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

" The need for hygiene and food security shown by the Otago study is part of the clean green image that allowing thresholds for GE contamination will undermine.”

"It is nonsense for the study to claim the reality of GE-Free standard for food is important but that the "clean green image" is not. "

Claims that the study shows no benefit from positioning New Zealand as GE-Free are misleading.

It is clear that food manufacturers want GE-free supplies which government policy is sacrificing for the interests of some sectors of the biotech industry. But comments based on the study that non-food GE organisms are unimportant for the nation's brand image are flawed.

"The in-depth interviews which were undertaken in the study did not consider the Forest Stewardship Council standards for timber products which does not allow GE trees. Food companies are not the people to be asking about non-food uses of GE in the open environment. If the Otago researchers had explored the issues with other sectors, they may have discovered their initial conclusion were flawed that the GE-Free positioning for non-food products was not beneficial," says Jon Carapiet.

ENDS

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