But we did, Greenpeace along with many environmental groups and the majority of Kiwis said we didn't want genetically engineered (GE) crops and food. We said 'don't plant it outside of a contained laboratory because it would contaminate neighbouring conventional plants.' We said 'it can't be controlled.'
And guess what? It turns out we were all correct. It was recently announced that the 'small' field trial of GE brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale) growing at Lincoln near Christchurch was to be pulled out. The trial was 'accidentally' allowed to flower, breaching numerous conditions set by the government run Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) when it granted the application.
And worse, the scientists in charge of the field trial can't be certain that the pollen from the GE trial hasn't spread and contaminated the surrounding area.
Talk about egg on your face! The ten year trial was only into year two when these breaches were exposed by GE free campaigners. Steffan Browning, of the Soil and Health Association was quoted in the NZ Herald today saying; "The report [that highlighted the breaches] vindicates the very real concern of more than 900 submitters who opposed the application, with pollen escape a major concern. This begs the question, just how many GE brassicas flowered in the Lincoln environment throughout the last year? Extensive testing for GE contamination must be carried out in the area".
The positives from this whole debacle are numerous. For one it shows that ERMA's rubber stamping of these GE field trials must end. Two, it proves once and for all that even small outdoor field trials can't be contained. Three, the upcoming field trial of GE onions has been put on hold for the 'foreseeable future'. And lastly it's shown that the best thing we can do as a country is to remain GE free, market ourselves as such and shore up our vulnerable export markets.
At the end of last year another dubious set of field trials applications were proposed, that if OKed, would see Aotearoa turned into a giant open air laboratory. AgResearch, a Government research institute, has applied to 'field test' GE organisms with "a range of genetic modifications and maintain these organisms in containment for research, breeding and for the production of products with potential commercial applications".
In a nutshell this means that if it gets approval AgResearch will be able to conduct broad-ranging genetic experiments on a vast range of animals including cows, goats, sheep, pigs, rats, rabbits, possums and chickens. They even want to alter milk composition and have the right to release GE milk onto the market and intend using cells taken from 'non-Maori humans' mixing genes from different species to make transgenic animals. The application is so broad it lists humans as "host organisms" to modify.
Talk about Darwins nightmare! The best, most sensible in fact the only answer to any further GE applications is a big resounding NO.
As we've always said "keep it in the lab".