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New Organisms and Other Matters Bill, currently before Parliament.

“Lifting the moratorium on commercial release of GM will not keep options open for New Zealand farmers”, says Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association Secretary David Wright.

“The commercial production of even small quantities of GM crops is likely to have a serious consequence for marketing of New Zealand produce. New Zealand authorities need to be listening to farmers in other countries who have had first hand experience with unwanted contamination by GM”, he said. The experience in Canada has convinced many mainstream agricultural organisations there that GM is bad news for the farmer.

An example is the Canadian Wheat Board, which with eight other farming and wheat industry organisations, publicly asked Monsanto to withdraw its application for approval of GM wheat. Wheat is a crop that has been domesticated for so long (thousands of years) that it doesn’t readily survive in the wild. It’s also mostly self pollinated, so the threat from GM pollen drifting in is far less than for other crops. Nevertheless, the Canadian Wheat Board is clear “we are not ready for Roundup Ready wheat”.

The reasons the Board and its associates gave is simple – the negative economic and agronomic impact on farmers could be severe, even before the GM product is commercialised.

Farmers in Canada know what damage GM crops have done to them. If farmers in NZ suffer the same way, the whole nation suffers. Lifting the moratorium will sacrifice the rights of many ordinary and biodynamic farmers to those few farmers who might want to grow GM crops. Adequate measures to protect farmers and consumers – such as strict liability for damages; independent, comprehensive food safety and environmental safety testing; and stringent food labelling rules – would need to be enacted and gain widespread support first.

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