High Court papers filed over GM trials in NZ (25/6/2007)

1.GE Brassica Trials - High Court Papers Filed Today
2.NZ Won't Follow EU Lead On GMO Organics


1.GE Brassica Trials - High Court Papers Filed Today
GE Free NZ press release, 25 June 2007

After much consideration papers will be filed today in relation to errors in law relating to approvals for field trials of GE Brassica.

GE Free NZ (in food and environment) has decided that flawed decision making cannot go unscrutinised.

Unfortunately there is no other legal redress for those making public submissions to challenge what appears to be an approach by ERMA that justifies why an experiment should go ahead instead of considering all points and then finding solutions to best address them.

ERMA received 940 submissions asking that the application be declined in light of known dangers to the New Zealand economy, public and animal health making a commercial release at any stage in the future impossible to envisage.

The ERMA hearing was initially disrupted as people protested the farcical nature of the process and expressed concern that ERMA would approve the application regardless of submissions. The hearing cost NGOs many thousands of dollars to participate. The submitters provided well researched scientific evidence that was not previously included in the application. However key concerns were judged "negligible".

"The lack of necessary research protocols and experimental procedures over the ten years of the trials means that little knowledge of value will come out of the field tests," says Claire Bleakley from GE free NZ ( in food and environment). "We are ask anyone concerned to support and donate to this challenge."

Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731 (06) 3089842 Jon Carapiet: 021 050 7681
www.gefree.org.nz for information behind this decision.


2.NZ Won't Follow EU Lead On GMO Organics
By Barry Mills Epoch Times Hamilton staff
Epoch Times, 25 June 2007

[image caption: NO GMO: New Zealand will not follow the EU to allow genetically modified organisms to be classed as organic food. (David Silverman/Getty Images)]

New Zealand may become the world leader in organics after European Union ministers decided to allow the contamination of organic food with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The new law adopted by the European Union's (EU) Agriculture Council allows organic food containing up to 0.9 percent GMO content to be classed and labeled as organic.

The Soil & Health Association said allowing GE contamination in Europe has given New Zealand a point of difference in the world as a GE-Free crop producer.

Co-Chair of the association, Steffan Browning, said this was a fantastic opportunity for New Zealand's organic and conventional farmers.

"The European Parliament and environmental groups had called for the threshold of contamination of organic food to be 0.1 percent. This is the lowest level at which genetically modified organisms can be technically detected. Due to our increasingly stringent bio-security and unique geographical isolation, New Zealand's zero tolerance need not be altered," Mr Browning said.

Ongoing field trials of GMOs in NZ could endanger this unique position, he said.

A recent application by Crop and Food for a GE Brassica field trial was allowed by the Environmental Risk Management Authority. Crop and Food want to field test broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and forage kale genetically engineered with the toxin derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

However submissions from groups opposing the trial could stop it. One opponent of the trials is Organics Products Exporters of New Zealand (OPENZ).

Organics Aotearoa New Zealand executive director Ken Shirley said in a recent newsletter the containment requirements that Crop and Food will use to prevent the spread of GMO material will not safe guard farmers and growers.

"Our argument is that GM is not compatible with organic management systems," Mr Shirley said.

He said any release of GM products would not only threaten the certified organic brand, but could also jeopardize New Zealand's clean, green image.

"Our submission was based on market returns to New Zealand. Organics give us a better overall return. We come from a marketing perspective. Overseas markets don't want GMO products. These are commodity-based with low returns to producers," Mr Shirley said.

Crop and Food are likely to apply for further field trials, including onions, garlic and leeks later this year.

"The reason our Crown Research Institutes are applying for these trials is to keep their scientists engaged in this type of work," Mr Shirley said.

Mr Shirley said that at a rough assessment New Zealand's organic market is worth $100 million.

"We want to grow this to $1 billion by 2013," he said.

He said markets in the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States are growing at about 20 percent.

The global market for organic food and drink reached US$23 billion in 2002, according to the Organic Monitor 2003, with increasing demand in North America fuelling a 10.1 percent increase on the previous year.

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