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2-Plants: New Zealand Federated Farmers accused of GE import threat



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TITLE:  Farmers accused of GE import threat
SOURCE: The Dominion Post, New Zealand, by Bernie Napp
        http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2101096a11,00.htm
DATE:   Nov 5, 2002

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Farmers accused of GE import threat

Farmers are threatening to illegally import genetically-engineered and 
other new crops to force more relaxed import rules, environmentalists say.

Last Friday, the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) held a 
workshop for government officials, scientists, farmers, and interested 
groups.

Federated Farmers GE spokesman Neil Barton told the meeting farmers might 
illegally import new organisms to avoid high compliance costs.

GE-Free New Zealand spokeswoman Susie Lees said yesterday Mr Barton's 
comments were a "veiled attempt to pressure for laxer regulations."

She said South Island farmers set a precedent by illegally releasing rabbit 
calicivirus in 1997 in response to what they perceived as unnecessary red 
tape.

Mr Barton denied seeking slacker import rules. He said New Zealand should 
have tight import controls that were affordable to farmers and attractive 
to overseas investors.

"In the future, if farmers see that some new technology might be 
particularly attractive (but) not brought in because of costs, we run a 
risk that some clown might bring it in illegally," Mr Barton said.

"It is a risk factor we have to recognise."

He said farmers would not grow current GE crops - soy, cotton, canola and 
corn - in any case, because they either did not suit New Zealand 
agriculture or were modified to protect against pests we lacked, such as 
the European corn borer.

Erma chief executive Bas Walker said on Friday that Erma had received only 
two applications for new plant species, both of them non-GE varieties, 
since 1998.

He said he would be surprised if the two introductions had been the only 
new plants brought into New Zealand.

Minister for Erma Marian Hobbs was unavailable for comment.



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