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Would a U.S. Free Trade Deal force New Zealand to adopt GE?

Monday 4 September 2023, 9:15AM

By GE Free NZ

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Three political parties, National, ACT and TOP, have declared that if they win the election they will “end the ban on GE”. This would allow them to progress a U.S. Free Trade agreement signalled at the last election. It cannot, however, be negotiated until New Zealand deregulates genetic engineered organisms (GE). [1]

“We should be very suspicious about any Free Trade deals that requires interference with our sovereignty,” said Claire Bleakley. “We cannot compromise our economy by allowing the deregulation and release of GE organisms into the environment, when the science shows there are so many risks and unknown effects.” [2]

The US aggressively markets their bioengineered innovations around GE food plants and challenges any move that threatens the potential to disrupt trade into the market. This was apparent when the US and Canada disputed a Mexican Supreme Court ruling on GE corn. [3] The Canadian Government chose to disregard the Canadian Farmers Union who opposed Canada’s stand.”[4] 

Concerns arose when Mexico detected their indigenous landrace corn/maize seeds were becoming contaminated with GE corn, which, if sold or regrown, could trigger proprietary patent rights. [5]

The Mexican Government made a decree banning the importation of GE corn for the food supply, [6] in response to the Supreme Court decision. In 2020, the Mexican Supreme Court upheld a class action law suit, calling for a ban on the importation of GE corn. The law suit was taken by a collective of 57 Mexican businesses, organisations and indigenous people. It was opposed by Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer-Dupont, and Dow Agrosciences. The Supreme Court ruled that the indigenous collective must be able to grow their native corn without the threat of GE contamination [7].

Internationally, Mexico has the highest number of corn/maize varieties and is the centre of the traditional maize landraces. The cultivation of corn can be traced back 6,500 years. Indigenous Mexican people are very reliant on maize as a staple food source. Their dependence is economic, essential for food security and has a spiritual significance. 

References
[1] https://foe.org/resources/ge-soil-microbes/
[2] https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/112848743/national-want-free-trade-agreement-with-the-us-bypass-un-for-sanctions
[3] https://halifax.citynews.ca/2023/08/25/canada-to-join-u-s-trade-fight-with-mexico-over-genetically-modified-corn-products/
[4] https://www.nfu.ca/nfu-asks-canada-not-to-join-us-mexico-gm-corn-dispute-panel/ 
[5]https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/the-patent-landscape-of-genetically-modified-organisms/
[6] https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-says-wont-modify-decree-gm-corn-ahead-usmca-panel-2023-08-21/
[7] https://www.resilience.org/stories/2021-12-08/mexico-scores-historic-legal-victory-in-defense-of-native-corn/