GE field test application alert


Action Alert

Say No to GE Greens:

GE Broccoli, GE Cauliflower, GE Cabbage

The Crop and Food Institute (a Government’s research organisation) has applied to field test a number of brassica crops – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and forage kale – all genetically engineered to contain the toxin Bt.

It is vital that we send a very clear message to the government that the New Zealand public is still strongly opposed to genetically engineered food and especially to the growing of genetically engineered crops in this country.

This application is particularly dangerous:

·        Contamination – the pollen and very small seeds of brassicas are easily dispersed by wind and animals, and commercial growing of GE brassica crops would result in widespread, irreversible contamination of non-GE Brassica crops (and honey). This contamination would prevent consumers exercising their right to buy GE free food, destroy New Zealand growers’ access to GE-free markets overseas, and cause irreparable damage to our reputation as producers of sustainable, non-GE, natural food. Hence GE brassicas could never be grown commercially in New Zealand without seriously undermining democracy and sustainability.

·        Undermining organics – genetically engineered Bt crops would undermine the sustainability of organics in New Zealand because they will hasten the onset of resistance to the biological insecticide Bt, a vital input in many organic systems.

·        Waste of money – public money should not be spent on developing GE foods that are highly unlikely to ever be grown commercially in New Zealand, that most New Zealanders do not want, and which undermine organics. Instead the money should be invested in the more energy-efficient sustainable organic systems, and in providing nutritious foods that consumers actually want and need.

·        Not needed – the stated purpose of the 10-year trial is to reduce pesticide use. But pesticide use can be drastically reduced right now by switching to organic brassica growing. Genetically engineered brassicas are not need. Currently available Bt sprays are perfectly adequate to manage the pests and can be more accurately managed to minimise the onset of resistance.

·        Antibiotic resistance – ERMA should not permit field experiments with GE plants that contain antibiotic-resistant marker genes, because they increase the risk of antibiotic-resistance to diseases.

·        Health impacts – the trials should not be allowed until evidence of health impacts on people and animals linked to this type of GE crop are properly investigated. In the Philippines scientists have identified immune responses in people exposed to genes from GE plants growing near by, and found sickness in villagers. In India some animals fed GE crops containing similar “Bt” toxins to the proposed trial-crop, have fallen sick or died. Bt toxins occur in may forms and some have been identified as potential allergens in humans. “Starlink Corn” was one such variant and prompted a billion-dollar product-recall when it accidentally contaminated human food. The health risks of GE Brassica have not been investigated in previous trials, nor would they be in this one.

·        Lack of information on gene combinations – ERMA should not approve field-experiments where there are no details about the precise combination of genes from various bacteria, viruses and their arrangement in each plant. Different re-combinations of gene elements may present different levels of risk and should be considered on a case-by-case basis, not given blanket-approval. Independent scientists cannot provide expert advice for proper risk management without knowing the gene-profile of the GE plants created.

·        Integrity in government funded research – The GE crop trial risks undermining public confidence in the direction of agricultural science and expectations that research in New Zealand should be as focused on long-term sustainability, and respect community values. Research carried out by our government institutes should be ethical, socially and environmentally responsible, informed about problems with GE crops overseas, and respectful of standards established by New Zealand society and consumer markets.

A summary of the application is available at
and the full application is available at

You can make a submission on-line at ERMA New Zealand Consultation on Applications (scroll down the page a little). Alternatively, you can send in a paper submission. A form is available at

Submissions must reach ERMA by Tuesday 12th December 2006.

It is vitally important that send a clear message to the government that we do not want GE crops grown in New Zealand.

Tell ERMA you oppose the trial because GE brassicas are not needed and not wanted and undermine the sustainability of New Zealand agriculture.

Tell ERMA they must reject the application for a field trial of genetically modified brassicas.

Sue Kedgley MP
Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
Room 8.06 Bowen House
Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Ph: 04-470-6717 Fax: 04-472-6003

‘Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food’ Hippocrates 400 BC
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