PGG Wrightson must stop its GE experiment.

PGG Wrightson is controlling shareholder Agria’s push to have the two companies’ seed divisions merge into an international seed company rivalling controversial genetic engineering giant Monsanto.  It’s a disturbing development for New Zealand’s future.

Neither genetic engineering (GE) or Monsanto have anything to offer New Zealand’s reputation as a provider of the safe, nutritious, sustainably produced food that our best value customers want. Having overseas dominated PGG Wrightson following that path fails a responsible vision for Aotearoa New Zealand.

PGG Wrightson has been experimenting with GE grasses in Australia and has had a strategy of developing a patent based dominance in GE pasture crops for several years. PGG Wrightson has purchased several South American seed companies and intended to begin its GE roll out in Brazil where regulatory safeguards for GE are low and a potential huge market exists.

Monsanto has gained dominance internationally with a strong arm approach enforcing its legal rights obtained through patents on its GE seed. Many farmers have been sued for royalty infringements because of contamination or saving seed from crops containing Monsanto’s GE technologies.

Patent based GE seed has caused significant contamination disputes internationally, has restricted seed choice for farmers, is questionable in terms of animal and human food safety, and has resulted in more chemical use and less sustainable agriculture practices.

PGG Wrightson was recently  awarded  $7 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) government money for further seed business development. Surely the foreign ownership (Agria is Chinese owned) approved by the Overseas Investment Office would be expected to do the investment, not the tax payer at the expense of other New Zealand businesses.

Going down the GE seeds path as Wrightson and now clearly Agria want, is not useful for the New Zealand brand which has a clear international distinction of being GE Free. Monsanto has very bad press internationally and has caused much pain to farming families and communities around the world.

New Zealand has a long reputation as an excellent seed developer and can develop this further, but in a way that promotes New Zealand’s clean green 100 percent pure brand so that all New Zealand benefits – farming families, tourism and exporters.

34 thoughts on “PGG Wrightson must stop its GE experiment.

  1. Doesn’t Arana have anything else to do except blog all day, every time on everything? If nothing else s/he represents the sort of people we have to deal with all the time and gives us practise in maintaining balance!

  2. “GE can clearly has the potential to save millions of lives, reduce spraying, increase yields and help with poverty, famine, droughts and starvation, reduce CO2 etc”
    Come on these words are clearly what Monsanto wants everybody to believe and in the perfect world there is even some truth in it, but really it’s the least goal they aim for…it’s only the monopoly=the huge profit which really matters to them.

  3. greenfly says “Neither A nor P can back their ditzy claims with anything other than snipe (photonz1)”

    hilarious – greenfly, king of attack the person and ignore the subject, complains about sniping.

    It’s rare to hear anything so hypocritical.

    If you get your glasses out, you’ll that your claims are false yet again. I’ve provided a the link to the GUARDIAN article “GM crops good for environment, study finds”.

  4. And what happens when you will a guinea pig?
    Does it fall pregnant? Self-combust? Lose its fur?
    The Americans have been willing guinea pigs for years, yet we still don’t know whether they managed to affect them in any way at all.

  5. Neither A nor P can back their ditzy claims with anything other than snipe (photonz1) or vague reference to something or other (Arana).
    Why do I bother?

  6. Arana – in what way are readers of Mary Shelly “irrational”?

    A poem from the late 80s contains the answer you seek.

  7. greenfly gets hysterical “Photonz1 claims GE will “reduce spraying”.
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh dear. Roundup Resistant this and that. Reduce spraying. Good grief! It’s like arguing with a brick.”

    The left wing Guardian Newspaper says “GM crops good for environment, study finds”

    See
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jun/13/gm-crops-environment-study

    Greenfly’s blinkered mind was made up years ago, and nothing in the world (even GM crops that HELP the environment) will change it.

    That’s what happens when you have cultish beliefs. And a mind so simple, that it can only see 100% good or 100% evil.

  8. The fact that no one is looking at GE in a serious way as a contributor to health issues isn’t showing there is no problem. A report back in the 40’s from the US health agencies showed modern farming(then, without the present additions) was creating serious mineral deficiencies that was costing huge sums in health. This has largely been ignored and now health bills are in the billions. The increase of cases of random shooting indicate a very unhealthy base tu US society, obesity as well. I guess the great supply of GE foods is going into the fast food giants, so maybe they are having an effect?

  9. “Americans have been willing guinea pigs for the last 15 years.

    Questions:

    Have they?

    What has resulted from this “willing”?

    Is Photonz1 insane?

  10. fin says “Indeed the great unknowns about GE can lead you to make just about any claim you like about the future potential”

    Wiki says “The research that led to golden rice was conducted with the goal of helping children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency (VAD). In 2005, 190 million children and 19 million pregnant women, in 122 countries, were estimated to be affected by VAD.[18] VAD is responsible for 1–2 million deaths, 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and millions of cases of xerophthalmia annually”

    fin says “I would add that, with just one unforeseen consequence, the negatives could far outway the potential positives.”

    Americans have been willing guinea pigs for the last 15 years. I haven’t heard of huge numbers of deaths from GE food.

  11. Wonder if the new Greens policy, regarding cannabis growing, being legalised for Maori only will include GE modified cannabis?

    Is the Greens co-leader serious about the legalisation of cannabis “for Maori only” true and approved policy?

    Not sure that will be a vote winner.

    Does not sit well with Hone so another dead duck the general voting public will trow back against the GREENS in 2014.

    Dont the Greens have strategy meetings where policy is decided?

    Epic fail.

  12. Roundup Resistant weeds found growing in Marlborough vineyards¨

    Ooops!

    The Australians are in panic mode about the RU-resistant weeds that sre now impacting on the productivity of many of their crops, but over here, photonz1 says, “Because it’s no big deal”

    Whoo-ooo-ooo!

  13. Photonz1 claims GE will “reduce spraying”.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Oh dear.

    Roundup Resistant this and that. Reduce spraying.

    Good grief! It’s like arguing with a brick.

  14. Photonz1 and Arana (that Quibbling Pair) haven’t been reading their weekly farming newspapers – they are full of dire warnings from agricultural scientists about the influx of GE material into our country and the pressure coming on from the GE industry to ‘give up resistance’ and accept the New Way. In order to comment intelligently, A&P (the QP) need to do some research on up-to-the-minute commentaries. Photonz1’s comment about GE feed-stock reeks of ignorance.

  15. I am amazed at the blind faith in technology that the baby boomers have. They forget a very basic principle, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This applied in the present debate would seem to imply that if we produce something special from a plant then there will be some other unseen change in that plant that will also have an effect. Maybe the loss of habitat for some small organism that is essential for some other soil recovery function, or as a catalyst for something, or maybe loss of somee nutrient construction that actually changes the benefit of that food. These factors are not being found or analysed by those producing the miracle??

    Eastern cultures are more able to grasp this paradox and thus have a focus on some sort of balance. In India, the next new superpower, they are making huge steps for organics etc. so they will grow faster, and they estimate it is worth billions to them.

    Some poems I wrote in the late 80s apply here I think

    CAN YOU ADMIT.

    Can you admit to being conned, my brother,
    Can you admit to being conned,
    Can you recall the hole it leaves,
    Can you laugh about the whole.

    Did you ever buy Uncle Sam’s dream,
    Did you ever buy that con,
    Gold coming from the seam of his jacket,
    Life without pain at all?

    But all we’ve done is store up the negative,
    All we’ve done is avoided the pain,
    Now it’s coming really hard and fast,
    Can you admit to being conned.

    NO WONDER A RADICAL.

    Now that I have someone to listen,
    To those deep felt inner woes,
    I can let out all my anger and hurt,
    Can say something about my foes.

    But they are not really foes, or friends,
    They just don’t listen, don’t understand,
    Then reject in fear, so down and closed,
    But they have no faith in Sky or Land.

    Now that I have someone to listen,
    I can see the Maori view, such hurt,
    Over generations, told, because they cared, inferior,
    So be angry my friends, scream and shout.

    But please remember, those that have the dogma,
    Those that pull you down, are not your equal.
    To be pitied, so be angry, let go, swear, curse,
    But please don’t strike, please give a little.

    We are now listening, some, we hear the pain,
    The ache, the earth scream, birds cry,
    If we all let go a little more, share the pain,
    Then we can believe, that mother nature heals.

  16. Photon says “GE can clearly has the potential to save millions of lives”

    Indeed the great unknowns about GE can lead you to make just about any claim you like about the future potential. I would add that, with just one unforeseen consequence, the negatives could far outway the potential positives.

    E.g. What if we could engineer a bacteria that converted lignin into alcohol? Could put to rest any hope/fear of peak oil. But what if the bacteria spread throughout the world’s soils and thus poisoned the soils (most plants don’t grow very well in alcohol).
    http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/Occupy,Monsanto,GMO,Genetic,Engineering,Modified,Organism,Food,Sustainable,Local,Locavore,Organic,RoundUp/gmo-bacteria/

  17. fin says “Do you really think that when one of the main GE traits is herbicide resistance, that herbicide use will go down?”

    There are also disease resistant crops, and pest resistant crops.

    Mike is right about the simplistic argument – GE is bad.

    GE can clearly has the potential to save millions of lives, reduce spraying, increase yields and help with poverty, famine, droughts and starvation, reduce CO2 etc.

    But there’s also potential for companies to have too much control in it’s use.

  18. greenfly asks “Southland farmers are feeding huge amounts of imported cattle feed (soy, canola, maize etc.) much of which will be G.E.
    Why is there no outcry about this?”

    Because it’s no big deal.

  19. Photon said, “And interesting read for both sides of the debate”
    Are you serious?
    That article is purely pro-GE. “But it’s now clear that GE crops pose no health risk…herbicide and pesticide use has declined”

    Do you really think that when one of the main GE traits is herbicide resistance, that herbicide use will go down?
    Contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied.http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24

    As for pesticides… The other main GE crop makes it’s own!!

  20. Southland farmers are feeding huge amounts of imported cattle feed (soy, canola, maize etc.) much of which will be G.E.
    Why is there no outcry about this?
    That genetic material is passed through to the milk that’s sent around the country and to China.
    Why is there no outcry about this?
    Those G.E. seeds are trucked and ‘trained’ throughout the region and containment is not guaranteed. Spillages are inevitable.
    Why is there no outcry about this?

  21. It is strange we get these claims from those with a financial interest in creating poison that the world needs them and thus better off, when the United Nations report on Food Safety claims most of these modern farm methods are ultimately reducing world food production, and they recommend going back to the tried and true methods that fit the local ecologies.

    The TPP that this government is pushing will further enhance the ability of the
    Corporates to push these disasters – Clinton and Gore were mates with Monsanto.

    Arana and his ilk would rather push this unproven land use on the world than get out and do some real work. I say unproven as we only know a small proportion of microorganisms and there functions developed over millions of years, then we have arrogant fools telling us that some new method is safe as they test a few minor factors. I made a submission to Erma about the claims of safety being applied by Monsanto and their ilk when research was showing the Genetics of the plants were changing and stabilising – ie the next generation of crop may do something different. It was of course ignored.

    If we want to stop people starving from crop failure we need to stop being arrogant and learn how to walk or bicycle so CO2 is reduced, and plant trees, and clean water systems.

  22. Vaughan says “On the other hand, you could mention the Indian farmers who’ve committed suicide over Monsanto’s ‘wonder’ seeds.”

    Or, like international left wing columnist Gwynne Dyer says in today’s ODT, what about the millions (literally) of children who have needlessly gone blind and died because Greenpeace and environmental groups have held up the release of GE golden rice for fourteen years.

    And interesting read for both sides of the debate – see
    http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/252353/golden-rice-here-long-last

  23. Much of what I find annoying about the GE-food debate is the amount to which it gets simplified to GE=bad or GE=good. Is it even possible to have a public debate which addresses the details of what’s being done beyond the words “Genetic Engineering”?

    On one side there’s a commercial/legal debate. I agree with Steffan Browning that there have been some disturbing things done overseas with patents, and commercial strategies to make it effectively impossible for farmers to grow crops without involving patented seeds and becoming a slave to the corporates. Does this mean it’ll happen here too? What could be done to ensure that it doesn’t, short of banning GE-modified crops?

    Then there’s a science debate. eg. Does “GE” application mean reducing the biodiversity in our food crops, resulting in a more monotonous range of foods we’ll have available to eat? (Keeping in mind that much food intake these days is processed, hard to avoid without great effort, and suppliers will tend to go to the same, simple bulk-providers of the base ingredients.) Should all GE manipulation be treated equally, no matter what’s being done?

    In Australia, completely anecdotally, we know a collection of people who have suddenly discovered wheat allergies since arriving. (That’s wheat, not just gluten, which makes it much harder to find alternatives.) The running theory, totally speculative, is that it’s an unintended side-effect of the specific modified strains of wheat that most Australian farmers have chosen to grow, due to their design for better drought resistance. Maybe it’s a lack of all the other strains. This could also be completely and utterly wrong, but it’s the type of detail I’d like to see addressed in a public debate beyond just “GE is evil” versus “GE is awesome”.

  24. photo said: “. . .African subsistence farmers they’re better off letting their children starve to death than risk planting drought resistance GE crops.”

    On the other hand, you could mention the Indian farmers who’ve committed suicide over Monsanto’s ‘wonder’ seeds.

    Quote:

    “In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands – only to kill themselves as well.

    Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed – two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much. . .”

    The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

    > http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousands-Indian-farmers-committing-suicide-using-genetically-modified-crops.html

  25. Good luck convincing African subsistence farmers they’re better off letting their children starve to death than risk planting drought resistance GE crops.

  26. Say it enough times and it may come true, or not. Death to Monsanto and their evil ilk, before they are the death of us!

    Nothing like starting from a rational position.

  27. Arana said: “blah blah good quality food. . .”

    Say it enough times and it may come true, or not. Death to Monsanto and their evil ilk, before they are the death of us!

    Quote:

    Don Huber, a plant pathologist and soil microbiologist, wrote to the US Secretary of Agriculture about the unintended consequences of GMOs. Among these are adverse effects on critical micronutrients, soil fertility, and the nutritional value of foods. The impairment of metabolic pathways that is associated with GMOs prevents the ability of plants to accumulate and to store minerals, such as iron, manganese, and zinc that are important for liver function and immune response in animals and people. Toxic effects on the microorganisms in the soil have disrupted nature’s balance. One result has been a sharp increase in plant diseases. Another is livestock deaths from botulism. Yet another is a sharp increase in animal reproductive problems. And another is premature animal aging. As the human diet has transitioned to GMO crops and meat produced with genetically modified, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa, there has been a sharp rise in human infertility.”

    Quote:

    Another problem with herbicide resistant crops is the active ingredient, glyphosate, in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide with which the GMO crops are sprayed. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 30 grams of glyphosate is a fatal dose for adults. The Internet site OpEdNews reported on December 22, 2011, that a new study in the journal, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, reported that 41% of 140 groundwater samples taken from Catalonia, Spain, contained unexpected levels of glyphosate. This is an indication that glyphosate is accumulating in the environment instead of breaking down. http:// http://www.opednews.com/ articles/ How-Did-This-Weedkiller-En-by-Sayer-Ji-111219-801. html

    Quote:

    The US Geological Survey reports that glyphosate is now “commonly found in rain and streams in the Mississippi River Basin.” http:// http://www.usgs.gov/ newsroom/ article.asp? ID = 2909 Considering the toxic effects of glyphosate, the external costs of GMO crops might be unprecedented in scale.

    — Roberts, Paul Craig (2013-02-02). The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West (Kindle Locations 961-964). Atwell Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  28. Neither genetic engineering (GE) or Monsanto have anything to offer New Zealand’s reputation as a provider of the safe, nutritious, sustainably produced food that our best value customers want.

    Our best value customers want good quality food at a reasonable price. Most people couldn’t care less about GE, the same way most people couldn’t care less about organics.

    “The reason farmers turn to genetically modified crops is simple: yields increase and costs decrease”

    Meanwhile:

    economicshelp.org/blog/2772/economics/organic-food-a-luxury-good/

    “However, last year demand fell by 9%. The main reason is primarily economic. The fall in demand for organic food occurred during a period of falling real incomes. This suggests that the demand for organic food is highly income elastic. (Independent Rise of Organic food curtailed by recession)”

    GE offers higher productivity in a world that demands more food.

    The organic path, for a food exporting nation, leads to economic loss. Economic loss means less money to spend on social services. That market is high risk, and that market has an aversion to food miles.

    Fine for your local farmers market, however.

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