US: Feds yank GM crops from Northeast refuges while pushing New Zealand to go GM
2. New Zealand: 100% Pure USA drive towards New Zealand as a GE nation
NOTE: While moving to protect its own wild places from GM crops, the US is pressuring New Zealand to sacrifice its clean green image on the GM altar.
1. Feds yank GE crops from all Northeast refuges
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
January 10, 2011
Washington, DC ”” The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has agreed to stop planting genetically engineered (GE) crops on all its refuges within a dozen Northeastern states, according to a settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought by conservation and food safety groups. Because the federal government would not agree to end illegal GE agriculture in refuges nationally, new litigation is being prepared in other regions where as many as 75 other national wildlife refuges now growing GE crops are vulnerable to similar suits.
The lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Delaware, filed by the Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic on behalf of Delaware Audubon Society, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Center for Food Safety, charged that the Fish & Wildlife Service had illegally entered into Cooperative Farming Agreements with private parties, allowing hundreds of acres on its Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware to be plowed over without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
In settling the suit, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service promised to revoke any authorization for further GE agriculture at Bombay Hook and the four other refuges with GE crops: the Rappahannock River Valley Refuge and the Eastern Shore of Virginia Refuge, Montezuma Refuge in New York and Blackwater Refuge of Maryland, unless and until an appropriate NEPA analysis is completed a condition that has yet to be met for GE agriculture on a National Wildlife Refuge.
"For Delawareans, this is a victory for the protection of vital public resources in our state," said Mark Martell, President of the Delaware Audubon Society. "Our aim was to end illegal and destructive agriculture on the Delaware refuges but we are delighted to have this victory extended to other refuges along the Great Eastern Flyway."
In March 2009, the same groups won a similar lawsuit against GE plantings on Delaware's Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. In August 2009, several environmental groups led by the Center for Food Safety and PEER wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to alert him to the implications of the Prime Hook ruling, asking him to "issue a moratorium on all GE crop cultivation in National Wildlife Refuges". But Secretary Salazar never responded to the letter and his agency, which oversees the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, was unwilling to extend the Bombay Hook settlement beyond the Northeast region.
"Planting genetically engineered crops on wildlife refuges is resource management malpractice," stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, noting that Fish & Wildlife Service policy explicitly forbids "genetically modified agricultural crops in refuge management unless [they] determine their use is essential to accomplishing refuge purpose(s)." "GE crops serve no legitimate refuge purpose, thus refuge officials must resort to outright fictions to claim these crops benefit wildlife."
PEER and the Center for Food Safety are now shifting their litigation focus to the Southeast, where many refuges still grow GE crops. National wildlife refuges have allowed farming for decades but in recent years refuge farming has been converted to GE crops because that is only seed farmers can obtain. Today, the vast majority of crops grown on refuges are genetically engineered. Scientists warn that GE crops can lead to increased pesticide use on refuges and can harm birds, aquatic animals, and other wildlife.
"GE crops have no place in National Wildlife Refuges," said Paige Tomaselli, Staff Attorney with the Center for Food Safety. "These pesticide-resistant crops pose significant risks to the very wildlife those refuges serve to protect, including massively increasing pesticide use and creating of pesticide-resistant superweeds. This Northeast region-wide ban is an important step in the right direction, but the Fish & Wildlife Service must stop planting these crops in other regions as well."
2. 100% Pure USA Drive Towards New Zealand As A GE Nation
Press Release Soil and Health Association
January 10, 2011
Government's phasing out of the winning 100% Pure New Zealand brand, while putting genetic engineering (GE) zealot Dr William Rolleston as Chair of Innovation and also on the Science board of the new Ministry Of Science and Innovation, is a clear sign that New Zealand's science and production is further headed down a GE track, rather than the clean green 100% Pure New Zealand trail according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ. (1)
"Last week's announcement that 100% Pure New Zealand is to be replaced by '100% Pure You,' although only weeks before New Zealand had moved from 4th to 3rd strongest country brand in the world, indicates that Pure New Zealand has been given the boot because Government is not prepared to put substance to the branding," said Soil & Health Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning. (2)
In November, Tourism New Zealand's Chief Executive Kevin Bowler said it was great to see brand New Zealand continuing to gain strength, especially in such a highly competitive international market.
"The consistency of the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign has kept New Zealand top of mind, and has made a promise that New Zealand is continuing to keep." (3)
"Even then that promise was being broken by the Government, with significant commitment to genetic engineering and dumbing down of brand New Zealand," said Mr Browning.
"Whether it be the dwindling support for sustainable organic production, or Government's recent $10 million support for Crown Researcher Scion and its USA partner ArborGen's GE trees experiments, and significantly more for AgResearch and its USA partner, GTC Biotherapeutics, cruel GE animal experiments, the current Government vision has little that is pure about it."
"New Zealanders are proud of our clean green 100% Pure New Zealand brand, and just as we are proud of our nuclear free status, most New Zealanders and our overseas customers have shown in polls to be opposed to genetic engineering in our environment and production."
"Inserting Dr Rolleston and other GE proponents into key science funding and policy roles, is a clear statement that this government is a GE government," said Mr Browning.
"The Government is intent of removing any semblance of independence in the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), currently tasked with decisions on GE applications. By ensuring the emerging Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), will 'put effect' to Government policy rather than the previous 'have regard to,' another sinister element is added to New Zealand's future GE status." (4)
"For an EPA to be effective, it must be as independent as possible, and policy for a clean green 100% Pure vision for New Zealand should be driven by those without the type of vested interests that Dr Rolleston and his Life Sciences Network bring."
Continued United States pressure for the uptake of GE, as revealed by Wikileaks recently and Soil & Health Organic NZ last year, appears to be coming through in Government action. (5,6)
2010 began with the USA's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Senior Science Advisor Nina Federoff visiting New Zealand and promoting GE. At the same time, Terri Dunahay, a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) international GE policy specialist, over several months, was promoting genetic engineering for New Zealand agriculture, while given a Fulbright Scholarship seat in New Zealand's science policy agency, the Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MoRST).
"Dunahay was also given time at ERMA, with her final MoRST-USDA report on the issues affecting the uptake of GE forages in New Zealand farming, suggesting that the New Zealand public should not be able to submit on GE field trial applications and that some GE pollen release was necessary to test environmental effects."
"The November 4th Hillary Clinton and John Key's 'Wellington Declaration' signing then sealed intent on GE biofuels collaboration and the current government's end to 100% Pure New Zealand," believes Mr Browning.
Soil & Health Organic NZ campaigns against the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment and food and has a vision of an Organic 2020 in direct contrast to United States foreign policy.
100% Pure New Zealand has been used to promote New Zealand as a tourism destination since 1999. Last November, New Zealand was ranked the third strongest country brand in the world by FutureBrands Country Brand Index.
ERMA is currently an autonomous Crown entity, slightly more independent than a Crown agent (the Minister can only require an autonomous Crown entity to have regard to, not give effect to, government policy). As one of the government's objectives for resource management reform is to provide for better central government direction, it is vital that the chosen model allows for central government direction of the EPA. A Crown agent allows for this relationship.
(SBU) When asked what the top local impediments will be to concluding an agreement, Sinclair noted a number of areas sensitive to New Zealand. It is "no secret" that Monsanto does not like New Zealand's genetically modified organism (GMO) regulations, Sinclair said.