Think tank calls for GE-free farming

A Wellington think tank’s call for New Zealand to be a GE-free food and fibre producer has been welcomed by the Soil & Health Association. The latest McGuinness Institute report, ‘An Overview of Genetic Modification in New Zealand, 1973–2013’ was released on 29 August.

“This comprehensive and thoroughly researched report sums up a lot of what we’ve been saying for years,” says Marion Thomson, co-chair of Soil & Health – Organic NZ. “Soil & Health agrees with its recommendations, including a moratorium on growing genetically engineered crops, and a thorough review of the systems and policy gaps around GE.

“The McGuinness report also calls for the implementation of all the recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification in 2001. Soil & Health has continued to ask for this. Many of the recommendations have never been carried out, such as adequate liability laws, or have been discontinued, like the Bioethics Council.”

“The risks of GE are too high, and our laws don’t protect the public from financial liability when things go wrong. This is why local governments are moving to protect their communities,” says Thomson.

“This report should be required reading for all New Zealanders involved in decision-making about genetic engineering. This includes all levels of government, from central government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and CRIs like AgResearch and Scion, to local governments.”

The McGuinness Institute report points out the lack of investment value for New Zealanders in genetic engineering. Of the 57 field trials held here since 1988, ‘Not one of these has resulted in any commercial benefit or tangible return on the public’s investment, while all experiments have presented a constant risk.’1

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Soil & Health, established in 1941, is one of the world’s oldest organic organisations and publishes Organic NZ. We advocate for people’s right to have fresh, healthy, organic food and water free of GE, pesticides and additives. Oranga nuku, oranga kai, oranga tangata.

1.     McGuinness, Wendy, and Mokena-Lodge, Renata, ‘An Overview of Genetic Modification in New Zealand, 1973–2013: The first forty years’, McGuinness Institute, Wellington, 29 August 2013

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