Hui for organic growers/farmers and GMO opponents

Kia ora katoa,
Council is about to embark on a series of consultation hui with the Far North community, sectors of industry and other groups as part of the creation of a long term strategic document.
Because the organic sector is seen as an important part of the primary production sector and of local economies, I am currently creating a data base of people in the Far North who are engaged in the organic movement and or the GMO opposition movement. The data base will be used to bring people together for a hui in November (probably Tuesday 6th) to discuss ideas around the long term future for the Far North.
It would be really appreciated if you could reply to me in the next day or so with the names (and contact points if possible) of people you feel should be invited to this specific hui on the organic industry and gmo’s.
Regards,
Ken

Ken Ross
Community Development Advisor
Strategic Development and Governance
Ph. 09 401 5200 or 0800 920 029

Any offers to host the October field-day?

Greetings Everyone, I have checked out a possible October field-day venue but folk are too busy, so I am asking the membership if anyone would like to host the Oct. field-day, usually the 2nd sunday, but we can alter that to suit.
Please email Krissie krisnterry@orcon.net.nz if you would like to be our oct. host.
Many thanks,
K. Khaine

Please vote in poll on NZ HERALD website and circulate to your contacts

GM panel warns NZ it could miss bus
Click on the below link to read article and vote;
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10831507

NZ scientists running GM field trials
Pastoral Genomics is carrying out field trials on genetically modified rye-grass in the United States. Photo / NZPA
Kiwi scientists are running experiments with genetically modified grass on foreign soil with a view to using the results to start field tests at home.
The field trials are being done by the government-funded research body Pastoral Genomics and are seen as an important step in getting field tests started in New Zealand.
The AgResearch crown research institute – which helps to fund the trials – has put New Zealand field trials at least 10 years away.
Its corporate plan says benefits of GM grasses are “outweighed by the potential negative responses” in markets to which farmers sell.
Some of the biggest names in GM science will be in Rotorua tomorrow for a conference on the issue.
It comes as the Ministry for the Environment considers new research showing how much money rules governing GM testing have cost the country.
Environment Minister Amy Adams has ruled out any changes to the GM regulations.
Gene scientist Dr Michael Dunbier said field trials on GM ryegrass in the United States were being done by Pastoral Genomics, an agricultural research body funded by the farming industry groups and the government.
The trials were on “cisgenic” – a form of genetic modification that uses genes from a single species.
Dr Dunbier, a director of AgResearch, said there were also plans to hold a field trial in Australia.
He said barriers included being able to produce enough seed in New Zealand in the laboratory for the Australian trial.
“Carrying out trials offshore does not decrease the need for trialling in New Zealand, but is an important part of the information likely to be needed for a New Zealand field trial application.”
He said the overseas trials meant another step in the research process and added to the cost. It also delayed the chance to properly measure benefits to New Zealand with trials here.
“The key question New Zealand needs to evaluate is do the potential benefits of the technology outweigh any possible risks. Unfortunately, we cannot properly assess either without further research in the field in New Zealand.”
Dr Dunbier said Pastoral Genomics had commissioned research on public attitudes to genetic modification. It included a response showing only 23 per cent of people believed New Zealand’s “clean green” image would be adversely affected by the “cisgenic” grasses.
Sustainability Council director Simon Terry said references to “cisgenic” grasses were an effort to change the language about GM to reduce negative effects on public opinion.
Millions of dollars in government grants were being used as part of a research and PR strategy to get GM grasses on the market in New Zealand.
The public wanted openness on GM issues, he said, and the spin strategy detracted from that.
The Greens’ spokesman on genetic modification, Steffan Browning, said the GM-related science community was strident in its approach.
“This is part of a co-ordinated response in pushing genetic engineering in New Zealand.”

Angry protests greet top players in GM
A major conference bringing together the world’s biggest players in genetic modification opened to the angry chants of protesters yesterday.
The week-long international agricultural biotechnology conference is being described by those on both sides of the genetic modification debate as a significant event for GM – but for opposing reasons.
Organisers hoped the Rotorua conference would foster collaboration and provide more answers on how GM could assist in feeding a world population expected to double by 2050.
But GM opponents see it as an opportunity for corporations to push profit-driven agendas using what they claim to be unsafe and outdated technology.
Speakers include Ceres chief scientific officer Dr Richard Flavell, who was among the first in the world to successfully clone a plant gene, Professor Robert Reiter of global biotech giant Monsanto, and United States international biotech trade envoy Jack Bobo.
A group of protesters, holding placards reading “stop poisoning our children” and “you are not welcome”, chanted from the car park as delegates arrived at the Rotorua Energy Event Centre.
A strong security presence had been arranged for the expected protest.
The chief executive of event hosts NZBIO, Suzanne Bertrand, said GM was one “tool” to advance research.
“New Zealand is feeding about 19 million people out of its agriculture and it is using the latest technology … it’s been using biotechnology for the last 20 years – without it, we would be nowhere,” she said. “Some people say we shouldn’t even touch GE, but as a tool for research it’s very interesting.”
Keynote speaker and leading agricultural scientist Dr Clive James said feeding the world remained “one of the most formidable jobs we have to do”.
“I think that if you look at the current technology, conventional technology alone will not allow you to feed the nine billion in 2015, so the new technology will play a very essential role.”
Jerome Konescni, who chairs the body that organised the international conference, argued that could not be done using organic food.
“The question I would ask proponents of organics is: if we have to double the world’s food supply by 2050, how are you going to do with it technology that … reduces production rather than increases it?”
But Greens MP Steffan Browning, who hosted an afternoon seminar against GE in a meeting room a few hundred metres away, called the view “rubbish”.
“If our population goes berserk, no system is going to feed the world. But organic and traditional means are going to feed the world better until we hit that point … GE is not going to do it.”
Dr Elvira Dommisse, a former Crop and Food scientist who worked on the first GE onion research, told the seminar she opted out of the industry after growing disillusioned with GE.
“I could see it wasn’t about making good crops, it wasn’t about making high-yielding crops, it was about making money from DNA you could claim as your own.”
New Zealand’s rules governing genetic modification are currently being studied by the Ministry for the Environment.
A recently completed study, not yet released, aims to find out how much money the country misses out on because of rules required for those working in the field of GM.