“Biotech companies are still trying to push their flawed and failed genetically engineered technology onto New Zealand farmers despite markets around the world not wanting to buy it” says Debbie Swanwick, Spokesperson for Soil & Health – Organic NZ.
The XII conference for International Biotechnology, being held at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua from 2-6 September, signals a significant threat to New Zealand’s future. “One of the key issues these companies will be espousing at this event is genetic terrorism against our food supply, economy and natural assets” says Swanwick.
Monsanto’s VP Biotechnology, Prof Robert Reiter, is one of ten keynote speakers at the conference which also includes representatives from Du Pont and Swiss-based investment firm Festel Capital.
Monsanto has a worldwide reputation as the Darth Vader of agriculture. Despite industry propaganda from this sector, touting GE crops as safe and promising that cross contamination of organic and conventional crops will be prevented, experience overseas shows quite the opposite.
Some Australian farmers lured into the promise of a safe product returning high revenues, are finding their GE crops harder to sell even at lower prices than GE-free crops.
“The only profits from the Australian farmer experience went straight back to Monsanto. Cross-contamination of farms has pitched neighbour against neighbour and Monsanto is now dictating terms of how farmers grow their crops and run their farms – they are, so to speak, Monsanto farmers,” says Swanwick.
This month two Australian farmers, Julie Newman and Bob Mackley, toured New Zealand with Green MP Steffan Browning, to warn against GE and educate farmers and the public on the subject.
Monsanto has purported, in the past, the safety of Agent Orange, PCBs, and DDT. Now they are promoting GE food crops designed to be sprayed with 2,4 D, an ingredient of Agent Orange.
“This hui (meeting) is happening in one of the most beautiful regions of New Zealand that all kiwis consider a taonga (treasure), yet the introduction of GE crops would damage our clean green image and tourist industry. The General Manager of Scion recently suggested Rotorua could benefit from GE crops, but the only benefactor from GE crops are corporate bottom lines,” says Swanwick.
Scion is one of the conference sponsors and one of the two Crown research institutes still conducting GE trials (with GE pine trees).Millions of New Zealand taxpayer dollars have been sunk into GE trials, with absolutely no benefits. Soil & Health wants such funding to go into researching and developing truly sustainable organic farming and forestry systems.
“As a group we are not anti biotechnology – we are pro consumer and the commercial release of GE in New Zealand would destroy our choice to eat healthy, GE-free food and denigrate the mana whenua of our people. It could also compromise our exports and $20 billion tourism industry born of our clean, green image – which many people in Rotorua and Aotearoa rely on,” says Swanwick.
GE crops reduce biodiversity and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems and soil organisms.
Soil & Health – Organic NZ will be holding a public vigil at the XII International Biotechnology Conference from 12 noon on Saturday 1st September to 4pm Sunday 2nd September.To register your interest in attending this event please contact 09 419 4536 or email, .