Moratorium Must Continue
July 31 2001: The Coalition for a GE-Free Environment Aotearoa New Zealand is calling on the Government to extend the voluntary moratorium on field and commercial release into the environment. This will give the Government time to implement solutions to the risks of GMO release that the Commission identifies but has failed miserably to deliver on. The Coalition recommends the Government adopt the practical solution proposed by the member organizations to keep genetic engineering behind the laboratory door. This would allow basic and beneficial genetic research to continue while protecting the environment and primary production.
“The Commissions recommendations are contradictory, confused and impractical. The Commission says that we can keep all our options open and, at the same time, release GMOs into the environment and food chain. This closes the door to a GE-Free New Zealand, which has proven ecological and market imperatives”, says Stephanie Howard, coordinator of the Coalition.
The Commission admits that the release into the environment is ultimately irreversible. Indeed the report acknowledges that the entire Canadian prairie has been contaminated by GE crops. In spite of this, the Commission still proposes measures such as “an industry code of practice to ensure effective separation distances between genetically modified and unmodified crops” that have not worked abroad.
The RC recommendations are equally contradictory about foods. It insists that banning GMOs from the food chain would compromise consumer choice. At the same time, it suggests that full and comprehensive labelling is too expensive and difficult. This effectively denies the rights of the many New Zealanders who do not want to eat GE foods.
“The report has been constructed to be useless, says Gareth Bodle, Coordinator of the Organic Industries submissions to the Royal Commission. “Instead of the practical solution to keep genetic engineering behind the laboratory door, the Commission has opted for a bureaucratic solution that spreads the risks of genetic engineering right across the community.”
“It proposes political tinkering rather than clear solutions,” says Bodle. “The Commission has missed a major opportunity to set a clear path for the future. The moratorium must remain. In the meantime, the ordinary person still has the power to make choices at the supermarket, on farms and in the ballot box.”
The Coalition represents the common position of most of the leading environmental organizations and the organic industry in the country, with a total representation of around 50, 000 New Zealanders.
For further comments, contact:
Stephanie Howard, Coordinator, Coalition for a GE-Free Aotearoa New Zealand, tel: 021-1652669
Gareth Bodle, Coordinator Organic Industries submissions to the Royal Commission, 025-275 6565 or 04-499 7574
Coalition for a GE-Free Environment Aotearoa New Zealand
Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association NZ, Bio-Gro New Zealand, GE-Free NZ, Green Party, Greenpeace New Zealand, Jews for GE-Free Food, Pesticide Action Network, SAFE Food Campaign, Soil and Health Association.