News 187 views last update:6 Aug 2012

NZ growers say GE ban is unworkable

The Soil and Health Association in New Zealand wants soy, alfafa, corn and maize seed imported from the United States and other genetically engineered (GE) producers stopped.

It says in the past month US courts and independent scientific peer reviews have found flaws in previously accepted data from the US Department of Agriculture and the multi-national biotech and seed company Monsanto. The flaws include environmental and human health risks.

Colin MacKinnon, from Federated Farmers maize growers committee, says maize growers in particular would go bankrupt without certain strict GE-free contracts with countries such as Japan but any ban on seed imports from GE producing countries would weaken New Zealand's competitive edge.

Soil and Health spokesman Steffan Browning says New Zealand can no longer rely on food safety appraisals from countries where GE crops are grown. He says an outright ban on seed imports is the only way of countering the risk of contamination.

Mr Browning says with regular incursions of GE-contaminated seed New Zealand is risking its GE-free marketing advantage. He says the development of more markets that are keen for GE-free products would more than compensate for the loss of overseas seed technology.

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