Marching against genetic engineering

MAVA MOAYYED
Last updated 10:31 27/05/2013
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The Wellingtonian

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Traffic was brought to a standstill on Saturday when about 150 protesters walked through the centre in a 'March Against Monsanto'. 

Wellington was one of about 380 cities in 40 countries that marched on Saturday in a grassroots movement against one of the most powerful companies in the world.

Monsanto is multinational agricultural co-op headquartered Missouri, United States, dealing primarily with the genetic engineering of crop seeds and production of herbicides. 

GE Free NZ president Claire Bleakley said she organised the Wellington march to highlight the dangers of genetically engineered foods and calls for the New Zealand government to stop importing such goods.

"We are asking that Monsanto GE food products be removed from the market until it is proven safe."

The company is responsible for about 90 per cent of the world's genetically engineered seeds and anti-Monsanto activists say not enough is being done in light of potential health risks. 

It is illegal to grow GE crops commercially in New Zealand, but GE foods that are deemed safe by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Authority (FSANZ) are allowed into the country.

Green MP Steffan Browning said that GE foods are in a lot of our imported goods unless it is specifically labelled GE free or certified organic.

"In terms of buying a loaf of bread from the supermarket, you can anticipate it has GE ingredients, like soy flour.

"The issue has sort of gone off the radar and these marches are an acknowledgement that it's still a threat," said Mr Browning. 

Monsanto spokesperson Adam Blight said that not only were GE foods completely safe, the technology was vital to sustain a growing population. 

"Globally, we have to feed an extra two billion people by 2050 and we see biotechnology as one of the tools to help farmers yield more from their crops." 

According to Monsanto, three trillion meals containing GE ingredients have been consumed worldwide since the mid-1990s, and no health problems have been substantiated.

"It simply is not a problem and people can be rest assured that GE foods are absolutely fine," said Mr Blight.

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- The Wellingtonian

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