INDEPENDENT NEWS

Rally In Support Of A GE-Free Environment

Published: Fri 31 Aug 2001 02:08 PM
New Zealanders Rally In Support Of A GE-Free Environment As Government Warned "Listen To The People."
Mass Rally - 12 noon, September 1st, QE 2 Square, Auckland
Saturday's public rally in central Auckland is likely to be the first of many actions New Zealanders will be taking to demand the environment and clean-green economy are protected from genetic pollution.
While potential benefits from ethical medical research in contained labs are not at risk under a GE-Free policy, the public want the government to act now to protect our food and environment.
The growing public opposition to GE outside the medical lab is founded on scientific concerns as well as cultural issues. Recent events such as the rejection overseas of cheese contaminated with GE additives. Today's announcement of a link to Nestle and marketing milk of dairy product in the US is also a major threat to the value of Brand NZ and our economy. There is an increasing need for government regulation to protect our brand image from speculation and overseas threats. Reports valuing NZ's clean-green image at billions of dollars also shows GE pollution is a major threat to the economy.
" The independent scientists are saying 'stop,' because the risks are so complex. The medical profession are warning that antibiotic-resistant genes used in GE foods can threaten the effectiveness of medicines. The insurance industry is refusing to insure damage from GE, because the risks are incalculable based on present knowledge. And consumers of the world are demanding a stop to GE, and immediate labelling so they can choose to avoid eating the stuff", says Auckland researcher Jon Carapiet, who will be supporting the rally.
For over three years GE-Free NZ (in food and environment) has organised public vigils in support of labelling of GE foods, and asked for a halt to field trials which irreversibly contaminate the environment, as well as a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the many issues raised by the technology. Over that time growing public alarm at the stealthy spread of GE foods into the system, a hot topic, both at home and overseas, where we see new trade disputes and the public who are joining with farmers to uproot GE crops.
" Unfortunately, the Royal Commission report was not sufficiently honest in communicating the scientific concern over risks and the public resistance - both amongst Maori and non-Maori- to the forced introduction of GE food and crops. From early on the Commission said this was a political issue and has played the game accordingly. This has resulted in a confused and potentially misleading report that claims to preserve our options", says Jon
The Biotech industry may set up a pro-GE demonstration in order to dismiss public concerns as ill-informed. However, most research studies show the more educated and informed people are, the less they want GE.
The report from the Royal Commission has also raised basic questions that show the flaws in their analysis.
" The public want to know how the government will legislate to stop bees moving from one crop to another. How will they legislate to stop the wind blowing? How can they stop the interaction and corruption of soil micro-organisms which form part of the complex web of life? How will they stop creeping GE contamination of conventional crops and organic produce leading to our clean-green image being lost forever and there ceasing to be any choice at all?"
Ends
For further comment contact Jon on 09 815 3370

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