GENET archive


GMO-FREE ZONES: Rodney (New Zealand) pushes GE free

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: Stuff, New Zealand

AUTHOR: Rodney Times, New Zealand


DATE:   03.07.2007

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A campaign to make Rodney the first official ’genetic engineering free’ district is underway.

Rodney is already branded ’organic friendly’.

Moves to ban genetically modified organisms or GMOs, in the district plan have come from eastern ward councillor Colin MacGillivray.

He wants Rodney to lead the country in rejecting genetically engineered crops.

”I think if an individual council prohibits GM then I think central Government might do something. It might be a catalyst for change.

”We should be a green leader in New Zealand.”

A stand against genetic modification was one of Mr MacGillivray’s council election platforms three years ago.

His initiative has become more urgent since the Environmental Risk Management Authority approved the country?s first GM field trials on May 28.

The trials will test the performance of four genetically engineered vegetable and forage brassicas in Canterbury.

Having genetically modified crops could be a financial risk for local councils, says Mr MacGillivray.

It could also do a lot of damage to New Zealand’s ’clean and green’ image internationally.

”The problem is if something goes wrong, no-one bears the cost of the risk except the council,” he says.

It’s like the nuclear issue we got into 20 years ago. You’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere.

”Eventually there will be great commercial benefits for New Zealand to be GM free.”

A change to the district plan to ban GMOs could take six months to a year to pass, providing there is public support for the move.

It already has support from long time anti-genetic engineering campaigner Margaret Aylward.

Her submission to the council’s 2007-08 annual plan called for a ban on GM field trials in the district.

Genetic engineering has been disastrous in many places where it has been trialled overseas, she says.

”We’re a small economy of four million people. We should be competing on quality, not quantity,” she says.

”I hope Rodney will take the plunge and ban GMOs. Somebody’s got to have the guts to make a decision.”

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: The Epoch Times, New Zealand

AUTHOR: Barry Mills


DATE:   25.06.2007

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New Zealand may become the world leader in organics after European Union ministers decided to allow the contamination of organic food with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The new law adopted by the European Union’s (EU) Agriculture Council allows organic food containing up to 0.9 percent GMO content to be classed and labeled as organic.

The Soil & Health Association said allowing GE contamination in Europe has given New Zealand a point of difference in the world as a GE-Free crop producer.

Co-Chair of the association, Steffan Browning, said this was a fantastic opportunity for New Zealand’s organic and conventional farmers.

”The European Parliament and environmental groups had called for the threshold of contamination of organic food to be 0.1 percent. This is the lowest level at which genetically modified organisms can be technically detected. Due to our increasingly stringent bio-security and unique geographical isolation, New Zealand’s zero tolerance need not be altered,” Mr Browning said.

Ongoing field trials of GMO’s in NZ could endanger this unique position, he said.

A recent application by Crop and Food for a GE Brassica field trial was allowed by the Environmental Risk Management Authority. Crop and Food want to field test broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and forage kale genetically engineered with the toxin derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

However submissions from groups opposing the trial could stop it. One opponent of the trials is Organics Products Exporters of New Zealand (OPENZ).

Organics Aotearoa New Zealand executive director Ken Shirley said in a recent newsletter the containment requirements that Crop and Food will use to prevent the spread of GMO material will not safe guard farmers and growers.

”Our argument is that GM is not compatible with organic management systems,” Mr Shirley said.

He said any release of GM products would not only threaten the certified organic brand, but could also jeopardize New Zealand’s clean, green image.

”Our submission was based on market returns to New Zealand. Organics give us a better overall return. We come from a marketing perspective. Overseas markets don’t want GMO products. These are commodity-based with low returns to producers,” Mr Shirley said.

Crop and Food are likely to apply for further field trials, including onions, garlic and leeks later this year.

”The reason our Crown Research Institutes are applying for these trials is to keep their scientists engaged in this type of work,” Mr Shirley said.

Mr Shirley said that at a rough assessment New Zealand’s organic market is worth $100 million.

”We want to grow this to $1 billion by 2013,” he said. He said markets in the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States are growing at about 20 percent.

The global market for organic food and drink reached US$23 billion in 2002, according to the Organic Monitor 2003, with increasing demand in North America fuelling a 10.1 percent increase on the previous year.



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