ll August 2012


"GE isn't a solution, it's just another problem for farmers, and a big one,"
-Bob Mackley, Duchembegarra, Western Victoria, Australia

Two Australian farmers visited the Whangarei Saturday Market on the
weekend and gave a presentation at the Old Library on Rust Avenue.
They shared their first-hand experience of genetically engineered
crops in their communities with 50+ ratepayers in attendance,
including local farmers.

Seed farmers Bob Mackley, of Victoria, and Julie Newman, of Western
Australia, are both strongly against genetically engineered food
crops, observing from personal experience how they can damage a farm’s
reputation, negatively impact on finite resources like soils and the
farmers access to key markets and premiums.  GE crops also serve to
divide rural communities, due to the nature of transgenic pollution
that does not respect property boundaries.

Mr. Mackley and Ms. Newman said genetic engineering of crops
effectively passed control of a country’s seed supply to the
government or foreign multinationals, rather than being in the hands
of farmers. The pair discussed issues of liability, the impossibility
of co-existence between GE and non-GE farmers and the contamination
problems already occurring in Victoria and Western Australia.

"These conventional farmers from Australia gave us a strong message-
saying local primary producers need to continue to work with our local
councils to protect our existing valuable GM free status", GE Free
Northland spokesperson Martin Robinson said today.

Marlborough-based Green Party list-MP Steffan Browning brought the
Australians to Whangarei as part of an 11-day tour of New Zealand.  He
wanted Kiwis from Dunedin to Northland to learn about documented
adverse impacts of GE crops.

 Ms Newman said there continued to be massive consumer rejection of GE
produce.  Ten years in the marketing industry taught Mr Mackley that
any business that didn’t listen to its customers deserved to fail, he

Ms Newman said it was up to non-GE farmers to keep genetically
engineered crops out of the supply chain. ”Farmers and consumers must
maintain that choice of non-GE produce,” she said. “Governments and
multinationals should not be trying to remove that choice.”  Health
issues, such as infertility and organ damage, were associated with the
consumption of food derived from GE crops, as reputable independent
scientific studies overseas have shown.

Mr Mackley said farmers with non-GE crops had access to all markets
and had an opportunity to maximise their profits .

”There are markets that do not accept GE food while others accept it,
but only at a lower price.”  Martin Robinson said there was increasing
pressure to begin growing GE crops in New Zealand and that farmers
needed to hear the warnings of the Australian pair about what had
already occurred in Australian states that lifted the moratorium on GE
crops.  Tasmania and South Australia still enjoy the benefits of their
designation as official GM Free food producing regions.

With the pressure on to release the first GE crops in New Zealand,
it’s time to examine what impact they could have on our clean, green
economy and marketing advantage,” Martin Robinson said. What can we
learn from the experience of our Australian neighbors about how the
introduction of GE crops will affect our agricultural industry and New
Zealand’s economy?”

Ms Newman said New Zealand should be learning from the world’s
mistakes, not following them.

"We need to learn from their mistakes and carry out an independent
economic impact assessment into releasing GE, one that covers both the
potential impact for individual farmers and for all sectors of the New
Zealand economy.

"Just to give one example, the European Union won't accept any honey
with GE traces. Releasing GE into New Zealand will close that $48
million a year market.

"Releasing GE crops would be a one way street, putting at risk our
brand, our reputation, and our world export markets, to grow food for
which there are no consumer benefits, and no market.

"Co-existence is a myth. GE crops, if released, will contaminate the
crops of farmers who don't choose GE crops and will open them up to
huge liability risks.

"We are facing increased pressure to start releasing GE crops in New
Zealand but all of the international experience is proving that the
promised benefits of GE were overstated and the risks are real.

"Recently the Hastings District Council calculated the importance that
staying GE free has on their economic development and unanimously
voted to declare their region GE free.  Hawke's Bay councils are also
keen to emulate the hard work already down by Whangarei District
Council and the other member councils of the "Inter Council Working
Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Management Options."

The NZ Government needs to start prioritizing our biosecurity, primary
producers, and the environment- to date central goverment regulatory
agencies and NZ Crown Research Institutes have failed miserably to
protect our interests.

"GE crops negatively impact on nearly everyone, bad for the consumers,
bad for farmers, bad for the community and the only ones benefiting
are the multinational companies who have proprietary rights over
certain seed strains."

GE FREE Northland applauds the commitment of local government to
address the critical GE issue, as the National - led government
continues to ignore the concerns of many eminent scientists, local
authorities and our key markets, as well as the majority of New

It is critical that the interests of local government and ratepayers
are protected and the risks of GE addressed.

GE FREE NORTHLAND encourages local government to act on the concerns
of local ratepayers and work to ensure the regions economy and
environment is protected by making appropriate changes to the District
Plan and the Northland Regional Policy Statement (giving effect to the
precautionary and prohibitive policies already in place in Long Term
Council Community Plans).

A shared approach to some type of local regulation of GMO land use is
being taken by local authorities from south Auckland to Cape Reinga.
A collaborative section 32 analysis on GMOs is about to be undertaken
by Whangarei District Council, Far North District Council, Kaipara
District Council and Auckland Council "super city".

GE FREE NORTHLAND believes the next logical step is achieving
enforceable REGIONAL EXCLUSION ZONE status (for GE) for Northland.

Northland is ideally placed geographically to achieve this
distinction, which would minimize the economic, environmental, public
health and liability exposures from GE release and experiments, with
Auckland region providing an additional buffer zone.

Physicians & Scientists for Global Responsibility (NZ) supports the
reinstating of the moratorium on all GE experiments and releases, due
to the inherent risks of GMOs to our biosecurity, unique biodiversity,
primary producers, economy and the public health.


Contact:  Zelka Grammer, Chairperson
              GE FREE NORTHLAND (in Food & Environment)
              09 432 2155

               Martin Robinson  09 407 8650

 Tasmania a leader in GM Free, Premium Branding

Tasmania and South Australia are both official GM Free food producing
regions. Tasmania has prohibited the commercial production of GM crops
for some years now, and has a branding programme to position the state
as the home of gourmet foods. As it states, “global negatives” (such
as GM foods) can be turned to the state’s advantage. They’ve got a
great story…

    Hormonal growth promotants and antibiotics are banned in cattle
    Tasmania is free from many of the major pests and diseases – such
as mad cow disease, foot and mouth disease, rabies and rinderpest.
    Tasmania is the only state in Australia free from fruit fly,
potato cyst nematode and tobacco blue mould
    Chemical usage is low due to the absence of major pests and diseases.
    Tasmania has some of the world’s most stringent quarantine policies.