New Zealand’s valuable GE-free status is under threat from biosecurity breaches, says the Soil & Health Association. Two spills in New Plymouth last week of maize imported from the USA show how it’s possible for genetically engineered seed to escape containment – and potentially grow.
“Well over 80% of maize grown in the US is genetically engineered, so there is a high likelihood of this seed being GE,” says Marion Thomson, co-chair of Soil & Health. “MPI has claimed that the maize is not GE, but we want to see the documentation, such as certification and test results, to be assured of this.”
New Zealand imports hundreds of thousands of tonnes of seed to be milled for stock feed. Much of it, including maize/corn, soy, canola and cottonseed, comes from countries where these GE crops are widespread.
“Have there been other spills of viable GE seed that we don’t know about?” asks Thomson. “The longer we continue to do import this seed, the greater the risks are from contamination, and reputation to New Zealand’s clean, green image and primary exports – including GE-free maize.”
“New Zealand needs to be more self-sufficient and grow more of our own maize,” says Thomson. “Especially in terms of pastoral and dairy farming we need to focus on healthy, biodiverse pastures and reduce our dependence on external inputs.”
Soil & Health agrees with the majority of Kiwis that New Zealand should be GE-free in our food and environment. This is part of a healthy lifestyle, environment and economy based on sustainable, organic farming and growing.
Co-chair, Soil & Health Association of NZ
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