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USA pushes against New Zealand transgenics moratorium

(April 11, 2002 – CropChoice news) – U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick called the New Zealand ban on commercial release of genetically modified plants and animals – a two-year moratorium approved last year – a barrier to trade and hinted that it might violate World Trade Organization rules.

"The proposed regulatory changes raise questions as to how this action fits within the principles of the WTO, since there exists no evidence to suggest that bioengineered foods present any more risks to consumers than foods developed in conventional breeding programmes or with other technologies," wrote Zoellick in his annual report reviewing the trade practices of the 55 major U.S. export markets.

One might wonder why it is that George Bush can impose tariffs on steel imports yet New Zealand and other countries can’t apply the precautionary principle to products that no scientists have proven benign to human or environmental health.

"It is absurd that US trade representatives say the US may pull out of trade deals if the ban on full scale commercial releases until October next year goes ahead," according to New Zealand anti-biotech activist Susie Lees. " New Zealand growers know they are on to a winner by sticking with GE Free produce and the public have shown they don't want GE crops here. The government are going to have a fight on their hands if they agree to let commercial crops be grown here. The US would love to carry out their controversial experiments here, like that of the use of immuno-contraceptive carrots and potatoes on possums, making New Zealand the Pacific GE Bhopal. New Zealand's public and growers both organic and conventional know that is perfectly poised to gain from being GE Free."