GE protest in Wellington against the end of A GE Free NZ

Today’s 9am ERMA GE hearing in Wellington will begin with a 8-30am protest outside the Terrace Conference Centre, St Johns House, 114 The Terrace.

Today’s hearing is in response to the New Zealand Racing Board’s attempt to gain approval to import for release genetically modified vaccines (Proteqflu and Proteqflu Te) to protect horses against Equine Influenza.

“This application could mark the end of New Zealand’s GE Free status, as the use of the living GE vaccine would be a release throughout the environment where ever horses live,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning. “A horse race to hell, using avian flu genetic constructs. What is that meant to do to New Zealand’s clean green trading image.”

“Applications by AgResearch for a range of GE animals and experiments will also be the subject of today’s protest. Those applications open for submissions until October 31, effectively amount to a genetically engineered zoo that includes the use of human genes and unacceptable animal welfare practices.”

“The protest will include members of the Soil & Health Association, GE Free NZ, SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation), and the Green Party, in an expression of disappointment in recent applications to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA).”

“Fundamental safeguards for the environment, and for New Zealand’s economic and public health are not in place, yet ERMA still accepts and processes applications for GE release.”

ERMA is yet to decide against an application, despite large opposition including expert technical evidence. GE field test auditing and compliance enforcement by MAF Biosecurity NZ (MAF-BNZ) has also been proven to be poor as shown by the now discontinued Scion GE tree field test.

“When things go wrong, liability will still rest with a community that still does not want GE.”

“In recognition of the level of community concern, all Northland’s District Councils plus Rodney and Waitakere have agreed on collaborative GE community consultation as the first step in local authorities from Auckland north investigating some type of local regulation (or prohibition) of GMO land use,” said Mr Browning. “Yet these applications could override the responsible approach of those communities.”

“Today’s protest is also under the shadow of a ERMA decision due on Crop & Food’s earlier application for a GE onion family (alium) field trial for a secret Canterbury location. The Environment Canterbury’s (ECAN) CEO was recently very clear that he did not consider GE experiments or crops a regional responsibility. However in the absence of sound law or decisions at a national level, regional and district councils need to act soon.”

Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020 and is opposed to GE in food and environment.

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