Organics Aotearoa New Zealand has filed documents in the High Court supporting GE Free NZ’s appeal against field trials of genetically modified brassica near Lincoln, saying that the Environmental Risk Management Authority’s decision to allow the trials failed to consider the risks of genetic modification to organic production.
“Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) opposed the original Crop and Food application for field trials because genetic modification poses a significant threat to organic farmers and growers”, said Doug Voss, OANZ Chair.
Even a small accidental release of genetically modified material would critically damage New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of pure, clean and safe food, he said.
Organic properties at risk
“Genetic modification is incompatible with organic production systems. Contamination of any certified organic property would automatically void certification – destroying the producer’s business.
OANZ is concerned the Environmental Risk Management Authority appears to have approved the trial without considering the potential cost to organic producers, and without establishing any scientific value which merited the risk.
European organics risked
Millions of European consumers were horrified at a recent EU decision to allow limited GM contamination of European-produced organic food. As a result, New Zealand’s continued ‘GE Free’ status gives this country a significant advantage in many of the world’s largest organic markets, Mr Voss said.
The organic sector contributes more than $300 million a year to New Zealand’s economy, and is growing rapidly towards OANZ's billion-dollar goal.
"We simply cannot allow the threat of GM to go unchallenged and put this growth at risk."
“New Zealand’s organic products are unashamedly GE Free, as well as being free from pesticides, herbicides, artificial preservatives and antibiotics."
He said OANZ was proud to stand alongside GE Free NZ and be heard as part of their appeal, on behalf of certified organic producers "and all those who want continued access to pure, safe food”.