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GE farming a one-way street

Last updated 05:00 16/08/2012
Seed farmers

GE DANGERS: Green MP Steffan Browning, Austalian farmer Bob Mackley, Zelka Grammer, Marty Robinson - both of GE Free Northland - and GE Free New Zealand president Claire Bleakley.

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Marlborough Green MP Steffan Browning brought Australian seed farmers Bob Mackley of Victoria and Julie Newman of Western Australia to Northland last week during their 11-day tour of New Zealand.

They delivered their anti-GE message at the Old Library in Whangarei on Saturday.

Mr Mackley and Ms Newman are strongly against genetically engineered food crops. They graphically shared their personal experiences about how contamination can damage a farm's reputation, pollute neighbouring properties and block access to key markets and premiums.

They said GE crops divide rural communities, because transgenic pollution does not respect property boundaries and leads to the courts for redress.

They talked about issues of liability, the impossibility of co-existence between GE and non-GE farmers and the contamination problems already occurring in Victoria and Western Australia.

They say there continues to be massive consumer rejection of GE produce.

"Ten years in the marketing industry taught me that any business that didn't listen to its customers deserved to fail," Mr Mackley says.

"There are markets that do not accept GE food while others that accept GE pay a lower price,” he says.

Ms Newman's message was that New Zealand should be learning from the world's mistakes, not following them.

GE Free Northland is urging local government to act on the concerns of local ratepayers and work to ensure the region's economy and environment is protected by making appropriate changes to the district plan and the Northland Regional Policy Statement.

Zelka Grammar of GE Free Northland says: "With increasing pressure to begin growing GE ryegrass in New Zealand, farmers should heed the warnings of the Australian pair about what had already occurred in Australian states that lifted the moratorium on GE crops, while Tasmania and South Australia still enjoy the benefits of their designation as official GM Free food producing regions.

"We need to learn from the Australian's mistakes and carry out an independent economic impact assessment into releasing GE, one that covers both the potential impact for individual farmers and for all sectors of the New Zealand economy," Ms Grammer says.

The European Union won't accept honey with GE traces, she says.

"Releasing GE into New Zealand will close that $48 million a year market."

Releasing GE crops and pastures would be a one-way street, putting at risk our brand, our reputation and our world export markets, to grow food for which there are no consumer benefits and no market.

She says co-existence is a myth.

"GE crops, if released, will contaminate the crops of farmers who don't choose GE crops. It will close markets and lead to legal action and allocation of liability costs."

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