Crown research institute Scion has applied to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) to conduct a field test of genetically engineered (GE) pine trees on a 4 hectare site in Rotorua and the public submission process is now open.
We need to keep GE in the Lab and not release modified organisms into the environment. Pine trees are an important part of our economy and an exciting, potentially-sustainable alternative to transport fuels and steel amongst other things. Keeping GE in the lab is also important to our valuable clean green brand. I urge you to put in a submission
Scion has been conducting similar research in the area since late 2000, and this new, much larger project would see 4000 trees planted over the next 25 years. Each tree will be grown for a maximum of 8 years and presents a different risk than other GE crops due to the longevity of trees in our ecosystems.
Despite assurances from Scion serious concerns still exist. The Soil & Health Association of New Zealand argues that the study of these previous tests was inadequate, and argues that the acceptability of the ‘terminator gene’ technology being used is still under debate internationally.
The risk of pollen drift is also a major concern, particularly in light of previous experiences at the Scion site in Rotorua. GE Free NZ have also got involved, sighting an erroneous Scion spokesperson who argued that pollen only travels 300 centimetres, while research confirms that pine pollen can travel up to 41kms in as little as 3 hours.