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6-Regulation: New Zealand reject apiarists' calls for veto on flowering GE crops

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TITLE:  Officials reject apiarists' calls for veto on flowering GE crops
SOURCE: New Zealand Press Agency/The New Zealand Herald

DATE:   Apr 17, 2003

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Officials reject apiarists' calls for veto on flowering GE crops 

Government officials have not supported calls by apiarists for the national 
watchdog on genetically engineered organisms to block the growing of flowering 
GE crops out of containment. The Government was told in a cabinet paper released 
today from agriculture and environment officials that beekeepers would prefer 
either to have no GE flowering plants grown in the open, or that no GE plants 
were approved which could be important sources of honey or pollen. But the 
officials have recommended two other way of mitigating the effect of GE crops on 
honey, pollen and other bee products, a sector worth $24 million a year in honey 
production, and $21 million a year in exports which include honey. They said 
Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) could set conditions on the 
management of GE crops to minimise effects on bee products, such as by 
clustering GE crops or requiring farmers to take the flowers off some crops. And 
beekeepers could be left to manage their hives to avoid the risk of GE content, 
such as by using a computerised register of approved GE crops to track locations 
and flowering times. "Erma will be able to provide information about the 
location of any GE crops of concern to beekeepers," the cabinet paper said. 
"Beekeepers consider that their profit margins would be reduced if GE plants 
were released in New Zealand, as the separation distances they require would be 
too great to be practical," the report said. Filtering pollen from honey and 
using modifying plants so the altered genes were not expressed in pollen, or 
putting bee repellents on GE crops, would be insufficient, according to the 
beekeepers. Bees can fly up to 13km in foraging -- too far for practical buffer 
zones around GE crops, the beekeepers said. The report noted Canadian apiarists 
asked for GE-free honey supplied clover honey, because clover had not been 
modified. But another paper released today noted New Zealand plant breeders are 
expected to apply after October for permission to trial GE clover.