“Government has rushed to clear the way for release of GMOs into the environment before it has even assessed the economic impact on New Zealand” said Sustainability Council Chair, Sir Peter Elworthy.

It is soon to announce plans to change the HSNO Act that will open the way for ERMA to receive GM release applications.

“New Zealand’s clean green brand is worth hundreds of millions a year and GM release directly threatens those earnings.”

“There is no GM release in sight that could begin to contribute at that level of earnings in the next few years.”

“The economic studies Government has commissioned to look at the risks to the clean green brand and the economy have yet to be reported.”

“Government is flying blind after having explicitly committed to ‘proceed with caution.’”

“In clearing the way for lifting the moratorium, Government is also acting against the wishes of a sustained majority of New Zealanders” said Sir Peter.

A clear majority of New Zealanders have consistently favoured extending the moratorium each time this question has been asked.

Surveys also indicate that half of all farmers seek this while over 80% of respondents to a Rural Women members’ survey want it to continue. “This is a critical issue for the nation’s future. Once we have commercial production of GMOs on our land and in our food chain, there is no going back.

“Why the rush? The only prominent contender for early GM release is a disease resistant potato.”

“When ERMA assessed such potatoes for field trials, it literally could not identify any sure benefits for New Zealand.”

“It’s easy to see why when the US Department of Agriculture expects plantings of GM potatoes to vanish in America – because even the fast food chains don’t want them.”

“Consumer resistance to GM food is overwhelming in New Zealand’s premium export markets – Europe and east Asia.”

“So why rush into GM release and put the clean green brand at risk simply for the sake of an early launch of unproven GM crops?”

“If GM foods later find acceptance, there is plenty of time to change tack without losing ground.”

“Opening the way to GM release at this time is a rush job in a high stakes game. There is no business case, no first mover advantage, and no going back” said Sir Peter.