Govt needs to think carefully before ruining NZ’s clean green and GE-free brand

The Government’s opening of consultation over definitions of Genetically Modified Organisms needs to be paid close attention to ensure that New Zealand’s clean, green, and GE-free brand is protected, and the health and safety of people and animals is also protected, the Green Party said today.

“The Government is finally acknowledging a 2014 High Court case that showed that their definitions of new technologies for risk assessments was wrong,” Green Party genetic engineering spokesperson Steffan Browning said.

“Tidying up the definition of what is GE is overdue and keeping old mutagenesis techniques out of that definition is correct.

“However, it is also not appropriate for the Government to continue to ignore the safety risk of the older techniques of chemical and radiation mutagenesis in products such as herbicide tolerant swedes.

“The herbicide tolerant swedes that continue to be sold in this country have killed hundreds of cows. HT swedes have clearly shown unexpected outcomes in terms of toxins produced and the subsequent effect upon the cows.

“There needs to be oversight that the resultant products of mutagenesis are fit for purpose, but not risking blurring that with the newer technologies of genetic engineering.

“The Royal Commission on GE recommended a very cautious approach to GE, and to keep it in the lab. It is time that the Government comes clean about its intentions for the future of agriculture in this country.

“With a stroke of a pen the Environmental Protection Agency could wipe out the clean green GE Free brand that so many of our producers use to sell to high value markets.

"People don't want to eat GE food and they want all food, including that of classical mutagenesis, to be safe.

“We will be looking at this issue closely to ensure that the Government is not trying to open the door on releasing genetically engineered crops and food into this country.

“I urge New Zealanders to make strong submissions outlining their opposition to contaminating New Zealand’s clean green environment and the brand that we depend on,” Mr Browning said.

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