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Regenerative farming better for NZ than GM

20/02/2019 Regenerative farming better for NZ than GM in agriculture and environment.

The Minister for the Environment is leading the way for New Zealand to be at the fore front of sustainable policies that will buffer the extremes of climate and soil degradation. The policies will also direct scarce R&D resources into issues that directly affect the people of New Zealand rather than expensive and hypothetical GM technologies that have many uncertainties and no international consensus on safety.

Chemical agriculture has led to a severe decline in insect populations and land degradation. The loss of insects that serve as pollinators and food for a variety of animals and birds could see a massive extinction of vital species that are essential to the food chain and to human life.

Published Scientific papers are showing the dangers of all types of genetically modified technologies to the organisms that are being engineered. It is important to change the focus to organic sustainable systems to protect the environment and health of all organisms.

A study completed in Europe [1] found that there was a loss of 75% of insect biomass attributable to loss of habitat through pesticides and intensive farming practices.

This has been followed by a study on Monarch butterflies (2019) that link the decline in these insects to the advent of pesticides intensified by genetically modified plants that are able to withstand continuous pesticide spraying throughout their growing season [2].

The failure of transgenic genetically engineered plants have led to high farmers costs, and insecticide and pesticide resistant weeds from the overuse of pesticides. Consumers are also seeking more organic, pesticide-free, sustainable and ethically produced food. There is strong consumer resistance to GE due to the unknown long term health and environmental dangers GE plants can pose. We are only now finding out the extent of mutations caused by the insertion of DNA fragments that lead to chromosomal rearrangements damaging the structure and functionality of genes.[3]

“We are totally in support of the practical non-GM direction the Minister is taking in relation to New Zealand's environment,” said Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ .

“The older genetically modified and newer gene editing technologies when cultured, cause enormous damage to the plant and pose known and unknown risks to wider ecosystems”

A study by Tang (2018) looking at the different breeding and GE techniques found that gene edited plants using CRISPA which were grown in cell cultures had around 200 mutations in the genome. These mutations were passed down to the next generation at a rate six times that for non GM lines.

The implications of this latest research shows that New Zealand must move to a sustainable, non GM, pesticide free agricultural system to protect the environment and health of insects, animals and humans.

The government is aware of the importance of Brand New Zealand to agricultural exports and the economy overall. Other countries have experimented with GE pest control since 2012 with little evidence of real success.

New Zealand’s reputation mist be valued and should not be undermined by pouring money into bleeding-edge GE experiments that are mostly hype and wishful thinking.

References:

[1] 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 ONE 12(10): e0185809.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185809

[2] Monarch butterfly and milkweed declines substantially predate the use of genetically modified crops J. H. Boyle, H. J. Dalgleish, J. R. Puzey Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Feb 2019, 201811437; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1811437116

[3] Jupe F, Rivkin AC, Michael TP, Zander M, Motley ST, Sandoval JP, et al. (2019) The complex architecture and epigenomic impact of plant T-DNA insertions. PLoS Genet 15(1): e1007819

[4] Tang X., Liu G., Zhou J., Ren Q., You Q., Tian L., et al. (2018). A large-scale whole-genome sequencing analysis reveals highly specific genome editing by both Cas9 and Cpf1 (Cas12a) nucleases in rice. Genome Biol. 19:84. 10.1186/s13059-018-1458-5

ENDS

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