GE brassica planting possibly illegal

Soil & Health is alarmed that Crop & Food has planted genetically engineered brassicas ahead of the March 31 Wellington High Court appeal against the ERMA decision granting permission last year.

The appeal by GE Free NZ was joined by Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ), BioGro, and the Biodynamic Association, and questions potential errors of process by decision maker ERMA.

The possibly flawed decision granted Crop & Food permission to field trial brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and forage kale) genetically engineered with a toxin derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis(Bt). However that decision was appealed by GE Free NZ within the allowable timeframe.

“Good process and natural justice should not allow an applicant to proceed with planting a GE field trial when the very basis of that decision is under appeal,” says Soil & Health Association spokesperson Steffan Browning. “Appropriately, if it was the RMA, not a sod would be turned until any appeals against decisions were resolved, as many appeals are upheld. What makes the HSNO Act any different?”

“This latest GE planting shows a cavalier attitude on behalf of Crop & Food’s GE team, as well as from the decision maker ERMA, and compliance agency MAF Biosecurity NZ.”

ERMA have confirmed that the Brassica trial was planted last December, although the High Court appeal is not to be heard until March 31.

Soil & Health’s submission at the ERMA hearing included concerns of GE contamination risks to organic and non-GE growers, resistance to the organic pesticide Bt, horizontal gene transfer, and the threat to New Zealand’s clean green image.

Soil & Health is committed to a GE free environment and food supply and has a vision of an Organic 2020.

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