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[genet-news] RISK ASSESSMENT & APPROVAL: Controversy about GE pine trials in New Zealand



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR GE TREES CONTRADICTS CLEAN GREEN IMAGE

SOURCE:  Soil & Health Association of New Zealand, New Zealand

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.organicnz.org/soil-and-health-press/1235/government-support-for-ge-trees-contradicts-clean-green-image/

DATE:    09.11.2010

SUMMARY: "?ERMA will grant the GE trees application regardless of the submissions because it is under government and United States pressure to do so,? said Soil & Health - Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning. Government has put $10.8 million science funding into the project and with pro-GE forestry interests actively lobby?s Forest Stewardship Council and international forums such as the Convention of Biological Diversity and the World Trade Organisation along with the USA, for acceptance of GE forestry."

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GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR GE TREES CONTRADICTS CLEAN GREEN IMAGE

Todays Environmental Risk Management Authority  (ERMA) hearing at the Novotel Hotel in Rotorua to consider the application by Crown Research Institute Scion to field trial thousands of genetically engineered (GE) trees  is a farce according to the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand.

?ERMA will grant the GE trees application regardless of the submissions because it is under government and United States pressure to do so,? said Soil & Health ? Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.

Government has put $10.8 million science funding into the project and with pro-GE  forestry interests actively lobby?s Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and international forums such as the Convention of Biological Diversity and the World Trade Organisation along with the USA, for acceptance of GE forestry.

?Soil & Health ? Organic NZ, and other submitters are presenting at today?s hearing  in Rotorua to hold ERMA and Scion accountable for the complicity and reckless attack on New Zealand?s clean green 100% Pure brand. GE has no place in the New Zealand environment and the government should know this.?

?Scion, ERMA and MAF have collaborated previously to reduce the fallout when Soil & Health-Organic NZ exposed serious breaches at Scion?s GE tree site.?

?New Zealand can?t have a bob each way on GE and sustainable production. Agriculture Minister David Carter, the Prime Minister, cabinet and treasury all know that clean green 100% Pure is a very valuable asset for New Zealand trade and tourism, but seem hell bent on bowing to Hillary Clinton?s US corporate interests to allow GE into New Zealand.?

?Agriculture Minister David Carter not long returned from meeting with Prince Charles and observing the consumer end of high value sustainable production, needs to tell New Zealanders unequivocally whether he supports GE in New Zealand forestry and agriculture or not.?

?Prince Charles  who was able to advise the Minister on profitability issues in wool, a natural fibre, could also have told the Minister that New Zealand going down the GE route would be madness. The Prince told me that when he visited New Zealand last,? said Mr Browning.

?Clinton?s team are on another mission and it is not sustainability or clean. The US biofuel experiment is costing massive subsidies from US taxpayers and is not sustainable.?

?Pollen spread by Scion?s multi-million dollar GE tree partner ArborGen is the basis for legal action in the United States. ArborGen is protesting that restrictions on new US field trials will mean they may have to cut down other GE trial trees that are already flowering there. They now are pushing for GE forestry in New Zealand.?

?Hillary Clinton and John Key?s Wellington Declaration, including ?renewable energy? collaboration, needs to be publicly fleshed out to expose any smell of GE.?

?ArborGen is very involved with GE biofuels development in the USA and aims to be the Monsanto of the tree world. ArborGen, although approximately 93% USA owned, is Australasia?s largest tree stock producer and much of New Zealand?s forestry business in now USA owned.?

?In January, Hilary Clinton?s Science and Technology Advisor Nina Federoff came to New Zealand pushing GE through a series of unbalanced presentations. At the same time, Terri Dunahay, a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) international GE policy specialist was promoting genetic engineering for New Zealand agriculture, while given a Fulbright Scholarship seat in New Zealand?s science policy agency, the Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MoRST).?

?Dunahay was also given time at ERMA, with her final report on the issues affecting the uptake of GE forages in New Zealand farming, suggesting that the public should not be able to submit on GE field trial applications and that some GE pollen release was necessary to test environmental effects.?

?Scion?s GE field trials are part of a drive for GE tree commercialisation here in New Zealand and overseas, and Scion Senior Scientist ? Team Leader Future Forests gave a misleading presentation to the Forest Owners Association conference in October, leaving out the significant drawbacks of investment in GE and the environmental and social damage that GE has caused internationally.?

?New Zealand trades on a clean green 100% Pure brand and the best value customers for New Zealand?s exports are the discerning consumers that choose GE free, animal friendly, sustainably produced and organic type products. Thousands of those potential customers submitted in opposition to the NZ raised GE trees exported for ArborGen trials in the USA, and New Zealand needs to dissociate itself from any further experiments immediately.?

GE trees have risks of new allergens, increased herbicide use associated with numerous illnesses including epilepsy and cancer, non-GE crop contamination, ecosystem collapse, and also the use of terminator type technology that is internationally frowned on. Most New Zealand trees are grown to Forest Stewardship Council standards that currently prohibit the use of GE trees.

Soil & Health ? Organic NZ have a vision of a clean green 100% Pure Aotearoa New Zealand that strives for organic production for the best value markets that support genuine sustainability.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   GM PINE TREE RESEARCH IS IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE

SOURCE:  NZ Bio, New Zealand

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.nzbio.org.nz/default.aspx?page=25&news=4495

DATE:    09.11.2010

SUMMARY: "NZBIO supported Scions application to ERMA to field test genetically modified pine trees this week. This application to test genetically modified Pinus radiata is part of Scion?s ongoing work to scientifically assess the commercial potential of new technologies for forestry."

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GM PINE TREE RESEARCH IS IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE

NZBIO supported Scions application to ERMA to field test genetically modified pine trees this week.

This application to test genetically modified Pinus radiata is part of Scion?s ongoing work to scientifically assess the commercial potential of new technologies for forestry.

?Approving the application would allow one of New Zealand?s most innovative research institutions to continue their world class research to develop trees that grow more quickly, produce improved wood and can be used for innovative new renewable products including biofuels, biochemicals and bioplastics,? says Bronwyn Dilley, Chief Executive of NZBIO.

There are major economic, social and cultural advantages to New Zealand for  allowing this research to proceed. The work will benefit rural communities and contribute to New Zealand?s economic prosperity, along with providing solutions to future global energy demands and reducing green house gas emissions.

?We have already burdened future generations with the issues of climate change and limited resources.  We have no right to handcuff future generations and disadvantage them even further by choosing to prevent the development of potential solutions to the problems we currently face.?

?Trees can be grown on marginal land providing biofuel feed stock to meet future world energy demands without competing with food production.?

The Scion field tests are subject to strict controls. The research will be conducted in containment at Scion?s secure site in Rotorua.

New Zealand?s regulatory environment provides certainty in the safety and quality of any new products. Future consumers of these wood derived products can be assured that the research will have been done within one of the world?s most respected and robust regulatory regimes.

?NZBIO endorses the view of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification that New Zealand must proceed with caution in this type of research. We are very confident if approved this research will be conducted under the close watch of New Zealand?s extremely robust regulatory system.?



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   HEARING ON SCION PLAN FOR GM PINE TREES

SOURCE:  Rotorua Daily Post, New Zealand

AUTHOR:  Kristin Macfarlane

URL:     http://www.rotoruadailypost.co.nz/local/news/hearing-on-scion-plan-for-gm-pine-trees/3928698/

DATE:    03.11.2010

SUMMARY: "Rotorua residents will be able to find out more about Scion?s application to field test genetically modified pine trees at an open day this month. The Environmental Risk Management Authority is holding a public hearing in Rotorua on November 9 and 10 on an application by Crown research institute Scion to field test, in containment, genetically modified pine trees."

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HEARING ON SCION PLAN FOR GM PINE TREES

Rotorua residents will be able to find out more about Scion?s application to field test genetically modified pine trees at an open day this month.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) is holding a public hearing in Rotorua on November 9 and 10 on an application by Crown research institute Scion to field test, in containment, genetically modified pine trees.

Scion wants to test genes influencing plant growth, reproductive development, herbicide tolerance, biomass utilisation, wood density and stability, at a secure, 4ha site in Rotorua.

The application states that the trees will not be allowed to produce mature reproductive structures. Therefore no pollen or seed will be released.

Scion?s research in genetically modified Pinus radiata is part of ongoing work to scientifically assess the commercial potential of new technologies for forestry.

Group Manager Bioproduct Development Dr Elspeth MacRae said Scion was proposing to test a range of traits that, if successful in the trial, could be evaluated to determine if there would be commercial benefit in these genetically modified trees for the New Zealand forestry sector.

?This application is a logical extension of our current field trials, previously approved by ERMA.?

The field trials, within Scion?s Rotorua boundaries, would enable researchers to demonstrate ?proof of concept? in a controlled outdoor New Zealand setting.

The application excludes the development of any reproductive material (pollen or seeds).

Once a tree starts to develop male or female cones it will be cut down and destroyed.

?We have an excellent documented track record covering the last 14 years of field trial activity,? Dr MacRae said.

Submissions on the application opened on August 25 and closed on October 6. A total of 234 submissions were received.

The hearing is an opportunity for the decision-making committee of the Environmental Risk Management Authority to gain further information from submitters and the applicant on an application. Anyone can attend a hearing, but only those who have requested to be heard may take part.

The hearing starts at 9am on November 9 at the Novotel Hotel.




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