The wheels are falling off the genetic modification wagon. All over the world, the industry promoting this ill-understood and poorly researched technology is falling apart.
North American corn farmers have lost their markets and are going broke. Consumers and retailers are rejecting GM food. Monsanto last year lost $1.7 billion on sales of $4.7 billion.
Scottish-based PPL Therapeutics, the creator of Dolly, the world's first cloned sheep, is pulling out of its New Zealand transgenic sheep experiment, after being abandoned by its pharmaceutical partner, Bayer AG.
This follows PPL writing off nearly $22 million last year.
Yet in the face of all this evidence, the Government is about to lift the moratorium and allow the growing of GM crops and animals on New Zealand farms, GM pine trees in our forests, GM fish in fish farms escaping into our rivers, live GM bacteria and viruses in human and animal medicines.
Let's remember what the moratorium was for. The royal commission reported two years ago with a number of recommendations that should be followed before anything was released. Mostly they have not been.
* It said that we need a strategy for the co-existence of GM and GM-free crops. The only strategy is for organic and conventional farmers and consumers to accept a 1 per cent contamination of their products.
* It said that we need a strategy to protect bee products from contamination. The strategy is that bee-keepers should move their hives 6km away from GM crops if they can find them. Addresses will not be given out for fear of sabotage.
* Fundamental research should be done on the effects on soils and native wildlife and horizontal gene transfer. It has just started and will report in several years.
* Local exclusion zones should be allowed for in particular circumstances to protect local production. They have not been.
* Food crops and animals should not be used to produce pharmaceuticals, for fear of contaminating our food supply or spooking our markets. This is ignored; cows, sheep and potatoes are being genetically modified to make medicines.
Above all, the commission said, we should preserve opportunities. But the opportunity for us to benefit from growing what the world wants - clean, green and GM-free food - is about to be taken away.
Independent scientists tell us that GM organisms are inherently unpredictable. Their effects on humans and the environment are not only unstable but untested and unknown.
No studies have been done on human health after a diet of GM foods. If they were making us sick, we would not know.
GM crops are failing to produce the main benefits touted by their promoters. Yields for GM soybeans are at least 5 per cent lower on average than for normal beans.
Instead of reducing pesticide use, GM crops have led to the development of weed killer-resistant super weeds needing ever more toxic herbicides.
Meanwhile, in Britain, a report from the Prime Minister's strategy unit has shown no probable economic positives for GM while consumer resistance is so strong.
Last month 90 per cent of Britain's high-street stores announced they would continue to refuse to stock GM produce, even if the commercial growing of GM crops got the go-ahead.
And in New Zealand, a group of top chefs have launched themselves as Purefoodnz, lobbying the Government to keep GM out of food production here.
The Government bases its confidence on a case-by-case approval by the Environmental Risk Management Authority. A year ago it appointed an independent panel to review the authority and its processes to ensure it was up to the job. The outcome was a highly damning review that revealed the authority to be more lapdog than watchdog.
The criticisms included poor accountability, poor oversight of conditions on GM approvals and skewed weighing of evidence in favor of the industry. It is hard to find anything concrete that has been done since to improve the organization.
The public have been clear for some time on what they want. Polls show there is widespread support for genetic technology in a contained laboratory, such as the production of insulin from GM micro-organisms.
There is strong opposition to releasing living organisms outside the laboratory and overwhelming opposition to growing GM food, particularly among Labour's own voters.
How many polls, protests and warning signs does it take to turn on a light bulb and change the Government's mind? Biotechnology and genetic science are far too important to our future as a producer and exporter of primary products to be discredited by association with failed GM technologies.
The Government is not listening to science, to its own voters or to our overseas markets.
Countries that embraced GM food in the mid-1990s were ignorant and careless. Countries that voluntarily give up their coveted GM-free status now are being deliberately and obstinately foolish.
* Jeanette Fitzsimons is the Green Party co-leader
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