Major Biotech Conference in NZ next week
Monsanto and DuPont vice presidents of biotechnology and agricultural biotechnology respectively are among the keynote speakers at a major international biotech conference in Rotorua next week (Sept 2-6). The 12th International Conference for Agricultural Biotechnology will include some New Zealand genetic engineers giving presentations.
While not all biotech involves genetic engineering, Organic NZ anticipates that a number of speakers and attendees will be promoting GE as the solution to our agricultural problems, when in fact it will only create more problems. Organic farming is the clean, green, sustainable solution.
New Zealand has a long history of opposition to genetic engineering. In 2003, a mass movement of people opposed to the lifting of a government-imposed moratorium on GE field trials camped out at Parliament for over a week. Direct action has frequently been used to rid NZ of field trials including trials of GE potatoes at Crop and Food Research in Lincoln, and GE trees at Rotorua’s Scion (formerly Forest Research Institute).
Other field trials in NZ have included onions, leeks, brassicas and cows. Widespread GE contamination of NZ corn through Dupont’s Pioneer seed that was planted on the East Cape has meant that buying GE-free non-organic corn is now next to impossible.
The problems and risks associated with GE are still with us, and while the movement against GE has all but died away, the proponents of GE have been waiting in the wings for public perception of GE to soften.
Some of the issues raised by GE include the patenting of the genetic information of food and plants so that it is held privately by multinational corporations. This has been manifest in the development of the Monsanto’s terminator X seed, which is sterile and thus cannot be saved by farmers. It has been reported that Monsanto has sued 145 individual US farmers since the 1990's for patent infringement in connection with its genetically engineered seed. Indeed, Monsanto is responsible for 90% of the world’s GE seeds, and is the producer of the most widely used herbicide, glycophosphate aka Roundup.
Other issues connected with GE include basic food sovereignty for the world’s people, the contamination of non-GE crops through wind and horizontal gene transfer, the long-term health effects, and the increased use of herbicides.
Is there energy for resistance?
There is interest in starting a public vigil in the weekend leading up to the conference and more on-going action.
The Soil & Health Association wants to reinvigorate the GE-free movement, and reassert and strengthen Aotearoa’s position as a GE-free zone, alongside others who share our aims.
There is a call for action for people to join a vigil in person in Rotorua this weekend, by making your views heard in all kinds of media as soon as you read this, and/or by making a donation.
Here are details:
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Saturday 1st September
Meet at the Energy Events Centre Rotorua. We will always have a presence at the Energy Events Centre over the two days but those who wish to march may do so.
March to Government Gardens and Museum at the back of the Energy Event Centre
Jon Carapiet from GE Free New Zealand will open the event. Jon will brief us on the day's activities and share some of his career highlights and well as some of New Zealand's own in the GE free race.
Hand out brochures and postcards to the public (if you wish) and discuss our GE FREE NZ in food and field objective with them. Conduct a peaceful demonstration.
March to City Focus (there is free parking after 1pm)
cnr Hinemoa and Tutanekai Sts (next to Starbucks and under the Sails Complex)
Hand out brochures and postcards to the public (if you wish) and discuss our GE FREE NZ in food and field objective with them. Conduct a peaceful demonstration
'A Walk in the Woods' hosted by Martin Sharp. Meet at Redwoods Visitor Information Centre, Long Mile Road, Rotorua
For the past decade Martin has been active in the GE free movement, and in recent years especially vigilant around the Scion GE tree trials. Come join us for a walk in 'what was once Scion wonderland - their former GE woodland' and hear the real truth about GE trees. Learn why their has been such public outrage they were ever planted and why instead of hugging these trees they were dealt to by chainsaws. Last year 375 trees approximately 1 metre tall were felled and three years prior 20 incurred the same fate by what the media deemed 'vandals'.
Dinner co-chaired by Moko Morris, National Council member Soil & Health - Organic NZ and Kaiwhakahaere Tari at Te Wananga-o-Raukawa and Claire Bleakley GE Free NZ at Solace Cafe, 1111 Tutanaekai St, Rotorua ph 07 349 1551
Located on the famous Eat Streat area in Rotorua, between Pukaki and Whakaue Streets (at the lake end of Tutanekai Street), a bit of solace we think is the order of the day. To keep it simple the chef has put together a choice of three mains including chicken, steak and a vegetarian dish and will include either one of two entrees OR one of two desserts FOR ONLY $25pp. A fine example of the purchasing power of many people! Come along and chillax after a hard day hitting the pavement.
Moko will share with us Te Waka Kai ora, (the National Maori Organics Authority) - the relationship between Maori and food from an indigenous perspective and the natural connections between ngā atua (Maori gods), whenua (land ) and kai (food). A Huaparakore Aotearoa (GE Free NZ) is imperative as fundamental concepts in maori creation stories, such as mana, whakapapa, mauri , whanau, will be compromised under a GE regime and Te Waka Kai ora resists this. Moko believes collaborate whanaungatanga (relationships) are important now, more than ever, to ensure our whenua ( land ) remains GE Free.
Claire will talk on why we don't need genetically engineered food and solutions that already exist to questions raised by GE advocates.
'Host a House' - with Claire Beakley and Moko Morris. Two single beds are available at Morrocan Dreams, for $50 each, should you wish to share a house and a meeting of the minds. This is a great opportunity to get the inside scoop on what is going on in New Zealand from two experts in their field (a GE free field of course). First in, first served. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Screening of Seeds of Freedom at the home of Claire Bleakley and Moko Morris with another screening being held by Martin Sharp. Come round after dinner and be inspired by the movie and the learnings of three key players in the NZ GE free race. We think they deserve gold. They really have been NZ champions for one of the greatest causes of our time. Address details of venues will be provided at dinner.
'Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system.The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, has impacted on the enormous agro-biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture.
Sunday 2nd September
Breakfast at Abracadabra Cafe with Lisa Er (founder of Lisa's Hummus and the Awareness Party), 1263 Amohia Street, Rotorua, ph 07 348 3883 www.abracadabracafe.com
Rather appropriate name we thought considering we are making some MAGIC in Rotorua. Join us for an organic coffee on the deck (and breakfast) and support their cause. They support Buy 1 Give 1. Every time an item is bought from their blackboard menu they feed a child in Kenya. Abracadabra have already achieved some notoriety in New Zealand, being voted 10/10 for service, quality of food, value for money and cleanliness.by TV3's hidden camera showTarget.
Lisa will give us a glimpse into her world, the amazing work that people are doing with councils to go GE free and share her wisdom about the dangers of genetic engineering and the benefits of being without it in New Zealand!
Meet at the Energy Event Centre
Claire Bleakley will kick of todays vigil and stand on her soap box for a cause close to her heart - GE Free New Zealand. Claire will brief everyone on the days activities. Today is the day we come face to face with the creator (of GE) Mr Monsanto himself should be arriving in the afternoon.
March to Central Mall
1170 Amohau St
Go through the foodcourt and set up a table in the lobby with our materials on display. We cannot approach people but can talk to them about genetic engineering and if they wish they can take brochures and postcards. Conduct a peaceful demonstration.
Public meeting at the Blue Baths
Hosted by Steffan Browning - Green MP with keynote speakers including ,Dr Elvira Dommisse : ex Crop & Food GE onion researcher. A scientists view of the risks of GE and Jon Carapiet : Protecting the Clean Green GE Free 100% Pure Aotearoa New Zealand brand. Steffan will speak on GE failures and politics in NZ and propose A new GE MORATORIUM. Get the low down on whats been going on high up. You will be gob smacked at what is happening behind the scenes around the sale of our natural assets.
Public vigil at the Energy Events Centre
Play the stand by me for GE free song and sing. Claire Bleakley to play the 10 minute song and take on Monsanto on stereo system (as per attached). Conduct a peaceful demonstration.
4.30pm Official opening of the Ag Biotech Conference
5pm We close our vigil
Public lecture: Dr John Bedbrook - Vice President (Du Pont Agricultural Bio technology USA) at the Energy Events Centre
Programme of events attached
Drinks and nibbles at the main bar - Sudima Hotel, Lake Rotorua, 1000 Eruera Street, Rotorua