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Ignorance around Regulation of Genetic Modification

Tuesday 13 June 2023, 10:52AM

By GE Free NZ

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The National Party joins three other parties who are pushing to “end the ban” on genetically modified/engineered organisms (GM/GE) regulation and allow the open release of GE in the New Zealand environment. [1][2]

Ms Collins ignorance on the importance of regulation of GMO’s does not take into account the fact that there have been approvals for GM medicines. There have been a few medicines that have undergone clinical trials in New Zealand, but these have proven to not be safe and have been withdrawn early in the trials. [3]

There remain two out of fifteen field trials on a range of GM trees and animals that have failed dismally and have many breaches of conditions.

“If we cannot trust the CRI genetic engineers to follow regulatory conditions then a full GM environmental release will be open to even more cavalier attitudes in the biotech industry. Once released GM cannot be withdrawn," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ.

Political parties must not ignore the history of GMO in New Zealand. There is devil in the detail of the National Party policy that adopts industry claims of future benefits and intends to streamline approvals of GE products after 30 days or if two other countries approve it. 

"The policy would deny consumer choice by not labelling Gene Edited food. It also sells out the opportunity to grow the economy by meeting demand for Non-GMO and organic, natural products. 

"National have seriously underestimated the value of the non-GMO market for our exports that their policy is throwing under a bus," said Jon Carapiet. 

GMO trials have been conducted in private partnerships with corporations like Monsanto and Genzyme and have cost New Zealand taxpayers millions of dollars. The AgResearch GM animal field trial experiment to produce pharmaceutical proteins in their milk reports found that the sentient animals suffer from deformities and ill health and have to have been euthanised on humane grounds. [4]

The Scion GM tree trial has not produced any meaningful results. The Norway spruce trial grew stunted and unhealthy plants and the trial closed down. The pine trees have had no environmental testing on the trees for 15 years. They are resistant to herbicides and have differing traits for ease of processing. This poses a great threat to the environment in the increase use of herbicides and disease. If pesticides were aerially sprayed it would cause loss of insect and bird life and spray drift across communities and farmland killing crops and pasture. [5]

The GE rye grass trials have been a dismal failure after 22 years of engineering. The private partnership conducted trials costing New Zealand taxpayers $25million over 5 years with poor outcomes and no meaningful results. Ongoing trials were applied for in Australia, touting that GM ryegrass would set the stage for approval in NZ. This application was quietly withdrawn. So, real action on climate change is delayed for a failed ryegrass trial that runs on the hype of opinion and not science. [6]

Many of the genetic engineers in the Crown Research institutes (CRI) own patents on the GM developments and are highly conflicted in being honest about the failures. If we didn’t have regulation calling for annual reports on these trials we would be in the dark about these outcomes.

It appears that the ignorance of the National Party, Act and TOP calling for de regulation have overlooked the animal suffering, low yields, sick animals, excess weeds, damaging spray drift, and loss of markets. The science has shown that the GM trials are a failure.  

"It is short sighted and dangerous to New Zealand to continuously promote failed GM options when we have organic solutions that have proved their ability to be safe for the consumer, have good husbandry care, consumer preference and environmental improvements," said Jon Carapiet.

"National are wrong to be delaying action on climate by promising technical fixes for unsustainable practices. Regulation of overstocking and emissions is needed, and farmers needs support to change systems to organic and agroecological production, not empty promises or quick-fix-up products." 

Regulation is not a dirty word when it comes to powerful technologies which demand a precautionary policy, including Genetic Engineering, AI and Nano Technology. Consumers around the world are seeking Non-GMO food and New Zealand has a unique position to meet this demand which will continue to grow.

References:
[1] National Party policy https://www.national.org.nz/national_will_end_ban_on_ge_and_gm_to_benefit_nz
[2]https://assets.nationbuilder.com/nationalparty/pages/17969/attachments/original/1686430379/Biotech_Policy.pdf?1686430379
[3] APP202601 Pexa Vec clinical trial https://www.gefree.org.nz/gm-annual-reports/
[4]GE Animals in New Zealand: The first fifteen years. https://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/pdf/GE-Animals-in-New-Zealand.pdf
[5] GM Trees - Scion (NZ Forest Research Institute), Rotorua https://www.gefree.org.nz/gm-annual-reports/
[6] AgResearch GE Rye Grass trials OIA requests https://www.gefree.org.nz/official-information-act-requests/