Don’t pine for our clean green brand, stop GE!

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.

You have until October 6 to have a say. More information on making a submission to ERMA is available on their website.

15 Comments Posted

  1. Dr Vandana Shiva on GE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oju86YIOOLI
    (Vandana Shiva on GM Food & Monsanto)
    ——–
    Book review: Vandana Shiva’s Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply,
    2000. 146 pp. Cambridge, MA: South End Press

    In Stolen Harvest, Vandana Shiva personalizes an already intimate topic—the food which becomes our very selves. Shiva’s first book on genetic engineering, Biopiracy, used a more academic style of critical analysis of the biotechnology industry. A renowned thinker in the areas of opposition to globalization, defense of traditional culture, eco-feminism, and genetic engineering, she confronts and details a multitude of food-related issues with her trademark passion and down-to-earth style.

    Stolen Harvest as a whole reads best as a collection of poignant yet separate case studies.

    http://www.greens.org/s-r/23/23-19.html

  2. GE could have great benefits.
    But you can assess the likelihood of harm by the fact that sellers of GE crops will not accept liability for any third party harm resulting. Which means either they o not know what the effects will be, or they do, and want to avoid responsibility.

  3. MR2guy said
    “Stop me if im wrong but isnt the whole point behind GE research to make things such as pine trees, food crops and the like more resiliant, faster growing with higher yeilds thus ensuring more, faster and of a higher quality.”
    Kind of but it’s mostly about money as you seem to have already read

    “Im not entirely convinced that organic or natural methods can keep up with mans growing demand for food and timber among other things.”
    I am convinced that we (man) are outgrowing our natural resources. I think clean water is pretty hard to come by in some places. But I’m yet to be convinced that GE can help us with this.

    “Nature has been genetically engineering things over millions of years, we are just doing it in a lab in more controlled conditions on a shorter timescale.”
    Different species are mixed in GE. This is one of the many differences from nature. It is far from controlled, many of the steps are quite random. But you’re dead right about it being on a much shorter time scale.

    “Is there any research that highlights proven negative effects of GE food or wood ?”
    Yes for food, not sure about wood. Uncle google will help with details.

    How about applications such as GE algae for producing deisel oils as opposed to using crude oil ? any harm in this ?
    Sounds amazing. Whoever patents those bugs will make a killing. I just hope they don’t find their way into my neighbours pond. He has gold fish in there 🙂

  4. Heres my take on the GE debate : there is a difference between selective breeding (which is just picking certain characteristics that occur naturally & crossing plants or animals that have them to get a desired effect).. GE is taking genetic material from cells & creating ‘non-natural’ results.. eg a bean plant with pig DNA inserted. The reason I think the bio-corporations are doing it.. is to get control of the food supply, by patenting the products & then promoting them, by selling at a highly discounted price.. therefore: CONTROL OF THE FOOD SUPPLY !!
    Kia-ora

  5. Example of NZ CRI model, GE and failure to deliver value to NZ..

    The Institute of Grasslands Research (IGER)commissioned Agresearch to trial its High Sugar Grass (HSG) cultivar, developed through its conventional breeding programme.

    Predictably, the results from the IGER HSG trail were mixed. The cultivar was developed for the UK, and trialed at 3 very different localities in NZ, and also subject to high N fertiliser rates which of course negatively impacted the carbohydrate to protien ratio of the HSG.

    However, rather than further develop the HSG for various NZ with IGER, AgResearch are developing GE HSGs in conjunction with Wrightsons?. In the meantime, AgR distorted the perception of IGERs HSG in the minds of the NZ farmer.

    IGER have further developed cultivars for NZ conditions, but the uptake of this conventionally bred HSG has been stalled by Agresearch’s ‘trial’, as has the benefits of the uptake and continued refinement of the IGER HSGs by NZ farmers.

    The Agresearch GE cultivar is still in development.

    Yay for the business model forced onto research institutes,yay for GE… Not!

    Failure to yield, failed to return value..

  6. In a nutshell…

    If I develop a cultivar using GE tech, I am able to patent it, which enables me to control its use and distribution in order to gain more economic benefit from its uptake.

    If I use conventional breeding, I have less control over the use of my cultivar, and receive less of the economic benefits from my R&D efforts.

    However a centralised breeder can only develop a cultivar so far, it needs further development to suit the many various environmental parameters where it will be grown.

    A farmer is unable to further develop GE seed to suit his local conditions, and the GE Co. has no incentives to do this either – hence “failure to yield’. Furthermore GE Co.s use restrictions to curtail independant testing of their cultivars.

    NZ’s CRI’s are being run under a business model – hence their push to GE – despite the lack of value to either farmers or NZ as a whole from GE. In the business model, short-term private profit is the goal.

  7. “isnt the whole point behind GE research to make things such as pine trees, food crops and the like more resiliant, faster growing with higher yeilds”

    So far, it seems to have mostly produced crops that require less labour – by allowing the use of pesticides in place of other methods of weed control, for example.

    Have a look at the report ‘Failure to Yield’ – link on this page http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/

  8. Thanks for the link Sprout, seems its mainly corporate greed driving the GE thing, I would have thought a bit more responsibility and safety would be factored in but it would seem the potential consequences are taking second place to $$$.

    I better get back to reading some more, would hate to waste peoples time :).

  9. If we have to go right back to those old discussions we had 15 years ago, then this thread will not be worth looking at. Please inform yourself of the situation Mr2guy so you don’t waste our time.

    What we should be doing here is carrying the issue forward with the knowledge gained over that time.

    This is a business-oriented government which has no real environmental understanding, so those who think that everything is up for grabs are taking the opportunity to put their cases again.

    Planting GE pines is truly audacious! Of course the pollen goes for miles – I get hayfever from pine pollen every spring from a plantation I can’t even see about a km away. It puts a fine yellow dust on everything.

    Pines are also notoriously easy self-seeders – there is no way to control the proliferation of wilding pines with that unknown DNA.

  10. MR2guy-reading about Monsanto should also put the brakes on you!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto

    I guess GE technology has the potential of doing good but the reality so far has been the opposite. It’s like the 90 day legislation, it opens the door for cowboys who lack a social conscience.

  11. I love these forums so much, funny bunch of people you Greenies 🙂 all nice telling people to stop because they are wrong.

    But how about backing up statements with facts or conflicting studies so as to educate me ? so that I may change my thinking and gain some valuable insight into your way of thinking ?

  12. Stop me if im wrong but isnt the whole point behind GE research to make things such as pine trees, food crops and the like more resiliant, faster growing with higher yeilds thus ensuring more, faster and of a higher quality.

    Isnt this a good thing ? Im not entirely convinced that organic or natural methods can keep up with mans growing demand for food and timber among other things.

    Nature has been genetically engineering things over millions of years, we are just doing it in a lab in more controlled conditions on a shorter timescale.

    Is there any research that highlights proven negative effects of GE food or wood ?

    How about applications such as GE algae for producing deisel oils as opposed to using crude oil ? any harm in this ?

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