SOC: Continuing genengineering hysteria
Wed, 15 Sep 1999 19:37:19 EDT

[It's getting worse. -- GB]

Doctor calls for halt to genetic engineering Daily News

THE Government needs to urgently call a moratorium on all genetic engineering until it can assure people there will be no resultant mutant foods or seeds, Murupara GP Bernard Conlon says.

It was critical to protect the integrity of a country's national food supply and not to allow modified foods or seeds until a large database of independent research had shown such genetically- engineered products were safe, Dr Conlon told a public meeting in New Plymouth last night.

Mad cow disease had united Europe, certainly for a generation or so, against genetically-engineered seeds or food.

Europeans were now not accepting the assurances of agro-chemical companies about the safety of genetic engineering when much of the available research was done by those same firms.

Dr Conlon, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners' environmental working party, said there was a lot of uncertainty, some misinformation, and inadequate independent research.

"If there was one lesson to be learned (from the mad cow debacle) it is the foolishness of allowing the possible corruption of the national food supply."

Some foods available in New Zealand, usually soya or corn-based processed foods, already contained genetically modified ingredients. So the Government needed to act swiftly to ensure specific and comprehensive safeguards.

"New Zealand is at a crossroads. Five years down the track it will be too late. Farmers need to think long and hard what direction they wish to take as their decision will be irreversible."

It was already possible to genetically coat seeds with a "death sentence" so they did not reproduce, forcing farmers back to the same seed companies year after year.

"People need to decide how much they value the bountifulness of nature, how much they value God's own country, whether they only pay lip-service to this concept or are they prepared to take a stand against genetic engineering," Dr Conlon said.