Science when it suits

More than 100 Nobel laureates have written an open letter to Greenpeace, the United Nations and governments around the world urging Greenpeace to support science and end their campaign against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Program has noted that global production of food, feed and fiber will need approximately to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population. Organizations opposed to modern plant breeding, with Greenpeace at their lead, have repeatedly denied these facts and opposed biotechnological innovations in agriculture. They have misrepresented their risks, benefits, and impacts, and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects.

We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against “GMOs” in general and Golden Rice in particular.

Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity.

Greenpeace has spearheaded opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million people, suffer from VAD, including 40 percent of the children under five in the developing world. Based on UNICEF statistics, a total of one to two million preventable deaths occur annually as a result of VAD, because it compromises the immune system, putting babies and children at great risk. VAD itself is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting 250,000 – 500,000 children each year. Half die within 12 months of losing their eyesight.

WE CALL UPON GREENPEACE to cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general;

WE CALL UPON GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD to reject Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace’s actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology. Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped.

How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?

The names of the 110 signatories, all Nobel laureates, are here.

L. Val Gidding, senior fellow at The Information and Technologies Innovation Center. He previously served as vice president for Food & Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and as expert consultant to the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Bank, USDA, USAID, and companies, organizations and governments around the world,  writes:

The website accompanying the release documents the global scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs (recently reaffirmed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, and virtually every other authoritative scientific body on the planet). It also documents the abundant and widespread environmental and economic benefits confirmed by the experience of more than 18 million farmers around the world, the vast majority of them small farmers in developing countries.

Other sections explain what GMOs are (describing them, more accurately, as a component of precision agriculture) and describe how scientists learned to make them by mimicking completely natural patterns of gene exchange found everywhere in nature. A section documents and corrects the false and misleading statements used by Greenpeace in its propaganda campaign to raise unwarranted fears and money to support its multinational organization, and the efforts of some governments to hold Greenpeace to account.

The Laureates’ website also documents former campaigners for Greenpeace and other environmental groups who examined the facts, discovered the truth, and broke with Greenpeace and other groups opposing innovation in agriculture, including Richard di Natale, Greenpeace Australia; Steven Tinsdale, Greenpeace UK; Patrick Moore, Greenpeace Canada & Greenpeace International; Mark Lynas, Greenpeace UK & the Soil Association); Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Catalogue & the Long Now Foundation; Bill Nye, the Science Guy; and Bizarro creator Dan Piraro. Additional materials provide further information from credible and independent third parties.

The organizing force behind this project is Sir Richard Roberts (Nobel Prize, 1993, Physiology or Medicine).

It is clearly past time for Greenpeace and others opposed to GMOs to follow the data and adopt a truly “green” and science-based position on genetic modification. The challenges facing society require a shift from political correctness to scientific correctness. Governments and other parties should do likewise.

 

Greenpeace is not the only organisation guilty of going for emotion rather than science over GMOs.

Hastings District Council is promoting itself as GM-free.

And of course the Green Party, which urges everyone to back the science on climate change, ignores it on GMOs:

The Green Party says it will not soften its anti-genetic modification stance despite a plea from some of the world’s top scientists, who say opposition by green groups is blocking GM foods that could help reduce disease in third-world countries. . . 

The open letter prompted Act Party leader David Seymour to call on the Green Party to abandon its “outdated” position on GM.

“The Green Party needs to catch up with science, and modify its position on genetic modification, especially when Golden Rice has the ability to give sight to thousands of babies struggling with a lack of Vitamin A,” he said.

Green Party GM spokesman Steffan Browning said the party re-evaluated its GM policy regularly, but it would not be making any changes as a result of the open letter. . .

Science isn’t foolproof. New evidence can challenge and change what were thought to be facts and it is sensible to be cautious about any new developments.

But GMOs have been in wide enough use for long enough to make continued blanket opposition to them a triumph of emotion over science.

Using science only when it suits your prejudices and beliefs is at best hypocritical. In the case of continued opposition to  GMOs it is preventing developments which would be better for the environment and provide economic opportunities, and it’s costing lives.

 

63 Responses to Science when it suits

  1. Mr E says:

    This is an interesting topic.

    I can see some parrallels to ‘Nuclear Free NZ’ here.

    I suspect this topic will be more about perceptions than science.

    I am all for the gradual safe release of GMOs in NZ. And I think science supports that opportunity. But there is a public perception issue that also needs to be considered.

    Like it or not the emotion contained in the discussion cannot be ignored. As illogical as that emotion may be.

  2. Dave Kennedy says:

    Some misinformation Ele, the Green Party’s objection to GE is in relation to New Zealand only and as far as i know there are no plans to grow golden rice here. Note the statement in the article that you linked to:

    “The arguments around Golden Rice – a product targeted at third-world countries – were not relevant to New Zealand, he said. The debate here should centre on what was best for the environment and trade.”

    We have more to benefit economically in NZ from remaining GE free.

  3. homepaddock says:

    Dave – the letter from the Laureates wasn’t only about rice: “We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against “GMOs” in general and Golden Rice in particular.”

    NZ and the world could benefit both environmentally and economically from, for example: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/cropping/8989967/High-hopes-for-GM-grasses

  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele as you know there is currently the ability to do GE research in New Zealand but before GE becomes part of our farming industry there must also be a comprehensive analysis of the wider economic benefits and well as satisfying any environmental concerns.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/7612107/GM-free-means-good-sales-for-NZ

    This is hardly an emotive approach as the current negative ramifications of losing our GE free status are probably more economic than environmental. The restrictions on GE trials maybe considered too restrictive for some but if open field trials start our GE free status ends, especially if the plants are able to naturally reproduce. Our track record of properly controlled research is poor which has led to a low trust environment.

  5. Greenpeace are disgusting. Here’s why.

    I was walking down the street when a student in Dunedin and was stopped by a Greenpeace person in the Octagon who I wrongly assumed was a volunteer collecting for a charitable cause. He asked if I wanted to donate and as far as I knew Greenpeace were reputable and I am a fan of the environment so I reached into my pocket and offered the two dollar coin I had. “Oh, no no” he said. “There’s a minimum of five dollars. Sign up here for a direct debit.” Yeah right! I saved my two dollars for the church volunteers collecting down the road who were thankful and I got my feel good factor from my small charitable act knowing that many others would have made a similar small donation.

    I subsequently looked up Greenpeace and found out that while they have one arm which is a “charity” in an obscure legal sense they have another arm which is not a charity and is the beneficiary of the “charity” arm.

    Their collectors are paid (just like many of the Green Party signature collectors when they spent two years eliciting signatures on their asset sales referendum petition). It seems everyone is paid in Greenpeace and they have an extensive corporate style executive who all need paid. So much for fighting for a cause – only if there is money involved it seems! That’s why Greenpeace isn’t a charity in the true sense.

    Ultimately Greenpeace, much like opposition parties world wide, need to maintain a series of “crises” to motivate people through fear and rage to give them money. That’s why scientists had to undertake this activism themselves. Greenpeace don’t want to admit they were falsely spreading fear for their own profit.

  6. Oh, and I heard the term for these vultures is ‘chuggers’ which means “charity mugger”. It doesn’t apply to traditional collectors for legitimate causes who are polite and generally normal human beings.

  7. Dave Kennedy says:

    James, I find it interesting that the right for tobacco companies to retain their brand and to be able to market a product, that has few benefits but huge health risks, is strongly defended by commenters here. However the fact that an NGO, that focuses on environmental advocacy, has a fund raising wing is strongly criticised by you. It seems that you are offended by an environmental advocacy organisation that is reliant on paid staff and fundraising for their campaigns.

    All major charities function in similar ways to Greenpeace. I know of several other charities that use street collectors, just not as often as Greenpeace.

  8. Name Withheld says:

    Dave – the letter from the Laureates wasn’t only about rice:

    No surprise that he was not able to spot this.
    He regularly shows that he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to comprehending the written word.
    Of course Golden Rice has a special place in green dogma.
    Greenpeace has spearheaded opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.
    And why?
    Look no further than their mantra on the World’s population growth, where their belief is there are too many of us and just enough of them.

    The scientists gave some chilling facts. The World Health Organisation estimates that 250 million people suffer from VAD, including 40% of the children under five in the developing world. Based on UNICEF statistics, one to two million preventable deaths occur annually because of VAD because it compromises the immune system, putting babies and children at great risk. VAD itself is the leading cause of childhood blindness, globally affecting 250,000-500,000 children each year. Half die within 12 months of losing their eyesight. How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a ‘crime against humanity?

  9. Name Withheld says:

    James, I find it interesting that the right for tobacco companies to retain their brand and to be able to market a product, that has few benefits but huge health risks, is strongly defended by commenters here.

    Oh look….the squirrels are back.
    Greenpeace…Tobacco..Connected how?
    Oh I see.. I shall remain alert out and about this morning for smoking advocates accosting me for donations for their cause.
    Idiot.

  10. TraceyS says:

    Dave, you wrote:

    “We have more to benefit economically in NZ from remaining GE free.”

    And then:

    “…before GE becomes part of our farming industry there must also be a comprehensive analysis of the wider economic benefits…”

    But your earlier statement portrays the analysis as having already been done. That is, if you are (as you say), someone who always bases their views on evidence.

    Come on and admit that “…more to benefit economically in NZ from remaining GE free” is just an ideology-based stab in the dark isn’t it?

  11. TraceyS says:

    “…the Green Party’s objection to GE is in relation to New Zealand only…”

    What rot. The Green Party has a policy to make 100% of farms in NZ organic. That would mean no GE inputs.

    The Green Party’s objection to GE definitely applies wider than NZ. They just express it in an underhanded way because they think we are all too dumb to notice.

  12. Mr E says:

    ‘stab in the dark’

    Seems to be a common theme from the Greens.

    Dave claims Greenpeace are environment advocates. But there is a lot of evidence to suggest environmental gains from GMOs.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jun/13/gm-crops-environment-study

    http://www.pgeconomics.co.uk/page/36/-gm-crop-use-continues-to-benefit-the-environment-and-farmers

    Greenpeace are not acting as environmental advocates. They are acting as anti GMO ideologists.

  13. Dave Kennedy says:

    ” “…more to benefit economically in NZ from remaining GE free” is just an ideology-based stab in the dark isn’t it?”

    Tracey, you would have seen the link I provided to support that and many of our more valuable markets prefer GE free products. If you feel that my claim lacks substance then provide the research that proves otherwise. If there isn’t the research on this currently then it clearly needs to be done. Releasing GE plants into our farming industry is dangerous if the wider economic justification doesn’t stack up.

    Mr E, where is your NZ based evidence? each country has its own needs and markets. You will have noticed that I am not entirely against GE myself, many useful medical advances are based on it and there could indeed be some agricultural benefits. However your arguments are weak because they are ideologically driven. The only GE developments that may be useful here at the moment would be non reproducing Douglas Fir and drought resistant grass. One grass type that you were promoting in an earlier thread has a non GE alternative.

    There is also the issue of ownership of any GE development. It will not be useful to the industry if we become trapped in a the sort of deals that Monsanto is infamous for. You are looking at the issue too simplistically as it is not as simple as saying yes or no.

  14. TraceyS says:

    “If there isn’t the research on this currently…”

    If there isn’t the research on this currently then it is incredible to make a statement such as “[w]e have more to benefit economically in NZ from remaining GE free”.

    You actually don’t know and, by making such a definitive statement, do harm to your own credibility.

    You also paint yourself into a corner where you can only reject and deny any evidence to the contrary.

  15. Mr E says:

    Dave,
    In one breath you say “where is your NZ based evidence? ” the next you say “there could indeed be some agricultural benefits.”

    Nobody want to see the careless release of GE. I propose the need for a rule frame work that allows for safe, realistic and practical release of GE into agriculture.

    Even though you say – there could be benefits to agriculture, your party policy has an absolute aversion to it. Infact your party polciy is about putting as many hurdles in place as possible.

    Your support of GE in this instance seems at odds with your party policy and I congratulate you for that.

    I wonder if you will lobby against your party policy?

    “One grass type that you were promoting in an earlier thread has a non GE alternative.”

    High sugar grasses in the Aber range are not an alternative to GE. GE grasses have the potential to easily outperform Aber grasses.

    I have no aversion to Monsanto patenting it’s technologies. Monsanto has become a leader in several food types, because of the science they have undertaken. People are not forced to plant their varieties. They do so out of choice.

  16. Dave Kennedy says:

    Oh dear, Tracey, it goes both ways and therefore destroys your credibility too. That’s why the work needs to be done and I haven’t ever claimed that it has been. If you read through past my comments I am consistently saying that we can’t introduce GE into the farming sector until we properly understand the economic consequences of losing our GE free markets. This is just fiscal commonsense and I am surprised why you would be against it. Don’t let ideology blind you from good process.

  17. Dave Kennedy says:

    “GE grasses have the potential to easily outperform Aber grasses.”

    But they don’t and few GE plants outperform non GE. I have noted that golden rice is constantly used as an example of GE success. What are the others? Most GE plants are created to be herbicide or pesticide tolerant to support monoculture farming.

    Our party policy is pretty rigid at present because it needs to be when people like yourself are so keen to destroy established markets by demanding we go down the GE road on such flimsy arguments. We review our policy regularly and update when new evidence appears. We can’t give up entire markets on the possibility GE may be useful, that’s just plain stupid!

    “Corporate biotechnology also tends to attract more attention than local seed-breeding, even before products have been proven to work. According to a recent analysis, the media has largely ignored the success of several strains of non-GM drought-resistant corn, cassava, and rice in India and Africa, which have multiplied yields and are spreading rapidly. Meanwhile, Monsanto has enjoyed breathless coverage of the company’s drought tolerance research, even when it was still in preliminary stages.”
    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/17/2787921/african-countries-join-anti-monsanto-protests/

  18. Mr E says:

    “But they don’t and few GE plants outperform non GE”

    Can you provide evidence that high sugar GE grasses don’t out perform non GE?

    “What are the others?”
    As an example you mentioned Monsanto – some of their products have not become market leading because they are rubbish.

    “Most GE plants are created to be herbicide or pesticide tolerant to support monoculture farming.”

    When you are growing crops you want to exert some control over the species that establish and grow. Sometimes monocultures are necessary. What is your aversion?

    “Our party policy is pretty rigid at present because it needs to be when people like yourself are so keen to destroy established markets by demanding we go down the GE road on such flimsy arguments”

    So you don’t believe another of you party policies. There is another one gone.

    “We can’t give up entire markets on the possibility GE may be useful, that’s just plain stupid!”

    As you say Dave, the potential for GE is significant. Yet those trading on GE free are few, and to be frank I am unsure how they can trade as GE free without evidence they are.

    For years greens traded on the fear of GE spreading out of control. Now the Green party message through policy is all over the show. They seem to be saying that GE will spread across property boundaries, but not regional boundaries. And what GE we have here will not spread – so people can claim to be GE free – without evidence.

    It is ideological rather than informed.

  19. TraceyS says:

    “Oh dear, Tracey, it goes both ways and therefore destroys your credibility too”

    I wrote that your bold claim: “[w]e have more to benefit economically in NZ from remaining GE free” damages your credibility because it is unsupported by the required analyses – something you appeared to agree with. And this somehow “destroys” my credibility?

    Destroys! Mind answering what part of my argument, and how?

  20. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Take a trip through the upmarket Carrefour chain in France, and you’ll see isles of New Zealand meat products labelled “Fed without GMOs”.

    “New Zealand is just one of many countries that has not adopted GM agriculture. Given the absence of GM crops that would benefit New Zealand and the strong resistance from consumers, it would be surprising for a country that earns half its export income from food products to take any other position.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/7612107/GM-free-means-good-sales-for-NZ

    Mr E, if you read this article a little more slowly it may help your understanding.

    You are still arguing for something that only has potential but without strong evidence that farming as a whole will benefit, let’s not go there. We have the best policy based based on current evidence and you have produced nothing that will indicate a change is necessary. Your desperation is revealed when you start making random assumptions about my thinking😉

    Tracey, my claim can’t be truly rubbished unless you have evidence otherwise. My supporting evidence could be stronger (mainly based on the work of the projects director of the Sustainability Council), but yours is nonexistent.😉

  21. TraceyS says:

    “My supporting evidence could be stronger…but yours is nonexistent.”

    I haven’t presented any. Nor was I “rubbishing” your argument but merely pointing out that if you hark on ad nauseam about needing evidence and then make unequivocal claims which are unverified then you are bound to be called out.

  22. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, you don’t see it hypocritical when you don’t treat this statement in the same way?

    “In the case of continued opposition to GMOs it is preventing developments which would be better for the environment and provide economic opportunities, and it’s costing lives.”

    What developments and what lives in relation to NZ (where our policy is focussed)?

  23. TraceyS says:

    No I don’t. Ele appears to listen to all sides and doesn’t monotonously challenge others to come up with evidence supporting their every comment.

    If I had to, in order not to appear hypocritical, challenge every unverified comment I ever read then I’d be very busy indeed.

    I guess it’s a matter of reciprocity. We can generally expect to get what we give. Personally, I do not expect better from others than I do from myself.

  24. TraceyS says:

    “What developments and what lives in relation to NZ (where our policy is focussed)?”

    Wouldn’t the polite approach be to address that question to Ele first?

  25. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, if you challenged the basis for my statement (as you did) then you need to come from a point of strength and treat others similarly. Otherwise I am reminded of the saying that involves stones and glasshouses😉

    “Ele appears to listen to all sides”

    As I said, you are very trusting. Ele has a strong National background in the way I have a strong Green background. One of the reasons why I comment here is that I don’t always see evidence of listening to all sides in her writing. However I appreciate her willingness to allow me to express Green views here to provide that balance.

  26. TraceyS says:

    And as I said on another thread, Dave, trust is earned.

    Being called “trusting” (twice in one day even) is not an insult to me. It’s a step up from the “naive” you have previously named me.

  27. TraceyS says:

    By the way, Dave, I’m happy with how I treat others. Treating people fairly does not necessarily mean treating them the same.

  28. Name Withheld says:

    One of the reasons why I comment here is that I don’t always see evidence of listening to all sides in her writing.

    And why should that be any concern of yours?

    I mean…really..think about what you are saying for a moment will you.

    Your breathtaking arrogance becomes more and more stunning as you steadily lose ground with your arguments here.

  29. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, I understand why you would trust Ele more than me, just don’t suggest falsely that I am unique in making claims without linking to supporting evidence. I happen to provide more support for what I say than most commenters here, the fact that others don’t agree with my links is up to them😉

    NW, why are you so averse to debate and people expressing different opinions? People are welcome to visit my blog and do the same, as some do (except many obviously just tick the disagree box and run)😉

    My main point in this thread is that we need to properly assess the economic ramifications of going GE (both for and against) before committing to a GE release. This is arrogance? Do you disagree?

    Your responses to me are largely personal attacks and when people revert to that sort of approach it suggests a fear of what is being said. If what I say is of no consequence then you wouldn’t bother.

  30. TraceyS says:

    “Tracey…don’t suggest falsely that I am unique in making claims without linking to supporting evidence.”

    OK, so you’re not unique, Dave. You are just like everyone else who makes their mind up before all of the data is in.

    Except that you appear to have a harder time seeing it.

  31. Mr E says:

    Dave,

    In 2010 10% of the world arable land was planted in GE. Between 1996 and 2013 the area sown increased by a factor of 100!

    In 2013 the following stats were reported:
    79% of all Soy globally was GM
    32% of Maize was GM
    25% of rapeseed was GM
    95% of sugar beet was GM

    In 2014 US GM crops represented:
    94% of the planted area of soybeans
    96% of cotton
    93% of corn

    I am sure we can agree the potential in NZ is enormous. Yet those that are trading as ‘GE free’ are only a small number. And I think the validity of those claims are doubtful and largely unproven.

    Here in NZ, industry also see the potential as huge. The Pastoral Genomics group is made up of following NZ organisations:
    Agresearch
    Agriseeds
    Beef+lambNZ
    DairyNZ
    Deer Research
    MBIE
    Grassland Innovation

    Globally GE has seen a massive increase. Locally organisations funded by all NZers are supporting GE research.

    Yet there is are big hurdles in the way. And much of that hurdle is based on an aversion with regard to safety. Yet we have countless studies supporting GE safety. And hundreds of laureates pointing out the safety.

    As time progresses the public will understand the safety of GE. I think it will become unavoidable. I also think the public will begin to understand the health and environmental benefits and see them as much greater than any that organics are perceived to provide.

    At that point we will be miles behind. – as we are increasingly becoming.

    We need to make some small changes to current regulations to ensure that GE can be thoroughly tested in NZ so potential opportunities can be well considered.

    Currently NZ is a desert or opportunity because of illogical unscientific aversion.

  32. Name Withheld says:

    linking to supporting evidence. I happen to provide more support for what I say than most commenters here.

    Only the seriously deluded, yourself perhaps, would class the endless links you provide to other people’s opinions as “evidence”.
    Research at best, but generally just green propaganda and information carefully selected to mislead.

  33. Dave Kennedy says:

    “At that point we will be miles behind. – as we are increasingly becoming.”
    Or we could be miles ahead by not resorting to monoculture farming like most GE based farming you listed involves. We are currently tapping in to high end profitable markets because we are GE free. Add that to the growing value of organics and we have a clear way to lever us out of the dairy slump.

    A lot of countries supported the Iraq war (including John Key) but I’m pleased that Helen Clark had the good sense to keep us out of it. You may be a blind follower of trends, Mr E, but I think we should proceed with more caution.

    You are deliberately avoiding my main argument that before we release GE into our farming industry we should properly assess the environmental and fiscal consequences. Neither your nor Tracey have provided any evidence that this has been done properly and National has a history of leaping into things because of ideology not evidence. At the moment there is only the ‘potential’ of GE being useful to our farming industry and we shouldn’t discard our current GE free market advantage on just ‘potential’.

    The only currently existing agricultural GE development that has been promoted here is Golden Rice and that is not a viable crop for NZ.

    You keep repeating a lie that my opposition is largely scientific yet if you read through the thread, I have been consistently saying the same thing and it doesn’t involve opposing the science. You cannot win a debate by seriously misrepresenting me and refusing to engage with my main argument, Mr E.

  34. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Only the seriously deluded, yourself perhaps, would class the endless links you provide to other people’s opinions as “evidence”.”

    Says someone who has claimed that they never read them… I love your open mind NW😉

  35. Mr E says:

    “You keep repeating a lie that my opposition is largely scientific ”

    Case concluded.

  36. Dave Kennedy says:

    Good grief, Mr E your dishonesty and devious manipulation knows no bounds😉

    My opposition is largely economic and I have have hardly questioned the science because in New Zealand’s case there is not a lot to question. Most of the potential GE benefits for NZ are still mainly ideas and the plant and animal research that has been done here has been poorly managed.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10642031

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/894/conditions-for-gm-field-trials-tightened

    You are throwing such misguided trust in GE as major part of our agricultural future when it may be just like antibiotics, the advantages may be fleeting:
    http://io9.gizmodo.com/5872304/pesky-insects-becoming-resistant-to-genetically-modified-corn

  37. One of the problems I have with the Green Party types is the negativity and snarkiness when they won’t admit they are on the wrong side of the facts.

  38. Dave Kennedy says:

    Which facts, James? Which of these do you dispute?
    -There is no current GE discovery that would benefit NZ farming.
    -If there was an open field trial for GE in NZ it has the potential of destroying some high earning markets for us with no assurance that the research will compensate for that loss.
    -The GE research that has been done here (it is already allowed to be done) has been poorly managed and officially condemned.

    Mr E wants to conduct open field trials under these circumstances, that is an ill-considered and dangerous view in economic terms. Scientifically we appear to lack strong oversight when there has been uncontrolled flowering of experimental brassicas and clear examples of animal cruelty.

  39. The part where 110 nobel laureates asked you lot to support GE.

  40. Dave Kennedy says:

    I think you don’t understand the argument here, James. You are looking at this in very simplistic terms.
    What does “support GE” mean to you with respect to NZ?
    What GE rules do you want to change?
    Who are you specifically referring to by “you lot”?

    If you aren’t aware of the current rules (that I support), here they are:
    http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/hazards/gm-nz-approach-jun04/genetic-modification-new-zealand

  41. TraceyS says:

    “You are throwing such misguided trust in GE as major part of our agricultural future when it may be just like antibiotics, the advantages may be fleeting…”

    Like antibiotics, GE may well be worth it, even if the benefits only last a few decades.

    Think saving lives, Dave. Good comparison by the way.

  42. TraceyS says:

    Dave, your questions around what “support GE” means are laughable when you happily ask us all to believe in climate change.

  43. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Think saving lives, Dave.”
    Tracey, I’m fine with that thought, once we have a GE solution that can do that better than anything else, and fits our local environment, let’s go for it. We already have the capacity to do the research what else are you wanting?

    “…your questions around what “support GE” means are laughable when you happily ask us all to believe in climate change.”

    Tracey, I know what Mr E wants regarding supporting GE, he wants open field trials that will commit us to GE before we have an end product that is economically and environmentally viable. I have no idea what James thinks thinking I am personally blocking, so the question is perfectly reasonable.

    There is no comparison between climate change and GE as regards NZ.

    The Government is committed to reducing our carbon emissions because there are sound reasons and scientific evidence to support it. We all must do our share.

    GE is just one method of developing new plants or animal traits that may benefit us (in relation to agriculture). Currently there are more varieties of useful plants and animals being successfully developed through non GE means and our ability to identify individual genes is also making the breeding of new varieties more precise.

    With Climate change we have no alternatives other than reducing our emissions, GE is just one of many tools to achieve an end and there is yet to be a viable development that will make an immediate difference to New Zealand agriculture. Do you have one?

  44. TraceyS says:

    Dave, it’s encouraging that you are open to GE under certain conditions but this openness is discordant with your party’s policies and, I believe, many Green voters.

  45. Dave Kennedy says:

    I think you will find that our party largely supports the current regulations around GE as I do. I also support our party’s recent statements saying that there is no compelling reason to give up our GE free agriculture status when the current evidence shows that it would be economically damaging.

    I am always afraid that National leap into GE in the same way they did with motoways, few will deliver a return on their investment. At the moment the benefits of GE are being overblown.

  46. TraceyS says:

    “At the moment the benefits of GE are being overblown.”

    Who by? Mr E?

  47. Name Withheld says:

    At the moment the benefits of GE are being overblown
    Who by? Mr E?

    Surely he cannot mean the “More than 100 Nobel laureates”?
    But who knows?
    The minds of 100 laureates may be no match for that of our small provincial town, retired primary school teacher.

    As an exercise, try using “overblown” in a sentence relating to the following reports..

    The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million people, suffer from VAD, including 40 percent of the children under five in the developing world. Based on UNICEF statistics, a total of one to two million preventable deaths occur annually as a result of VAD, because it compromises the immune system, putting babies and children at great risk. VAD itself is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting 250,000 – 500,000 children each year. Half die within 12 months of losing their eyesight.

  48. Mr E says:

    The same rules that Dave supports allow for field trials.

    Field trials of GE material are currently occurring in NZ.

    Not sure where he is going with that idea.

  49. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E is right about existing field trials but they can only occur under strict conditions. Worryingly those conditions have been breeched.

    Mr E has stated in an earlier discussion that the current controls are too restrictive and wants more open field trials. This would allow for the flowering of GE plants and the potential cross pollination with non GE crops or spread of the plants before their value is established. This is dangerous stuff because it will remove our GE free status irresponsibly and go against scientific advice.

    The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification made these recommendations and all have been adopted:
    -amending New Zealand’s already rigorous laws covering genetic modification to strengthen the way they operate in managing the potential risks posed by the technology.
    -establishing or strengthening research programmes investigating the potential social, economic, ethical, environmental and agricultural impacts of genetic modification.
    -exploring ways to ensure that genetic modification and other forms of agriculture can coexist, including through the introduction of a new category of release called ‘conditional release’.

    If the above are completed in a robust and thorough way then we would only introduce GE into New Zealand agriculture if it was both environmentally safe and economically useful. I agree with that approach but Mr E clearly objects. There are some worrying attempts to weaken current legislation through the Proposed Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry.

    NW, good grief, you clearly have no understanding what this argument is about.

  50. Mr E says:

    “Mr E has stated in an earlier discussion that the current controls are too restrictive and wants more open field trials. This would allow for the flowering of GE plants and the potential cross pollination with non GE crops or spread of the plants before their value is established.”

    I certainly have not proposed open field trials the way you have suggested. I think you are being dishonest Dave. Prove me wrong.

    At any rate, why do field trials of grass have to mean cross pollination Dave? Only selected plants need to to flower, and bagging can contain pollen and seeds.

    Even if plants were to flower, a lot can be done to reduce the risks of cross pollination. Flowering date can be modified etc.

    It seems your fear is based on a lack of knowledge and understanding.

    “we would only introduce GE into New Zealand agriculture if it was both environmentally safe and economically useful. I agree with that approach but Mr E clearly object”

    Also not true.

    Any GMO should be considered on an economic basis before it is allowed to occur in NZ. This should be done on a case by case basis. I beileve this is currently part of EPA requirements.

    ‘Safe’ is an interesting concept though. What is safe to you may not be safe to others. That is why we have an EPA.

  51. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, if we agree with what I have been saying in every GE debate here then I struggle to understand where the real disagreement is.

    You must also appreciate why the Green Party is so concerned about any field trials when the terms have been breached and animal experiments have resulted in high levels of suffering. You appear to have levels of trust in the industry that are not supported by the evidence.

    This Government’s gung ho approach has cost us billions in unnecessary environmental and financial damage in the past and I am concerned at any leap into GE without proper process.

    Remember the EPA approved Anadarko’s spill management plan by only reading the summary, so while we may have sound rules in place, giving proper effect to them is a different story.

    https://home.greens.org.nz/oralquestions/gareth-hughes-minister-environment-allegations-improper-epa-process

  52. TraceyS says:

    Dave, by your reasoning anything which has not been done well in the past, should not be attempted in the future.

    To show how silly this reasoning is just apply it to another subject. Lets pick on a topical one – state housing. Not been managed well at times in the past so we shouldn’t do it in the future. No state houses. No GE. What else do you think we shouldn’t have? Because from where I sit pretty much everything has been stuffed up at some time or other.

    If I followed your logic I’d have written even myself off many times.

  53. Dave Kennedy says:

    Serious Misrepresentation, Tracey. Where have I said no GE? I have clearly stated that GE could be introduced into agriculture when the environmental risks have been properly determined and the financial benefits are established. Despite GE research has been going on for at least 25 years, nothing has been discovered that will benefit the NZ farming industry to any great extent and the research that has occurred here has been plagued with problems. As I have said before you are welcome to prove otherwise, but you haven’t.

    My argument is about good process and it appears others commenting here are keen to throw caution to the wind and leap with blind faith into something that has not been established as necessary in the New Zealand context.

  54. Mr E says:

    Dave,

    “Mr E, if we agree”

    Now that you appear to recognise you are wrong, it is common courtesy to apologise.

    That aside, we do disagree on a number of things. You claim a national economic assessment of GE should be completed. I think that is silly.

    GE should be considered on a case by case basis to get any level of accuracy on the economic impact.

    Regarding the EPA and Anadarko, Greenpeace lost their high court case when they accused the EPA of improper process.

    “A “careful and proper consideration of the completeness of the impact assessment” has been undertaken by the EPA. In addition, the impact assessment was independently and internally reviewed, Justice Mackenzie found.”

    http://i.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/9537449/Greenpeace-loses-Anadarko-oil-case

    You claim the EPA ‘only read the summary’, when a high court judge says careful and proper consideration.

    Frankly I think you owe the EPA an apology. If you can’t, I think it says a lot about your fitness to govern.

  55. TraceyS says:

    Good process is always important so let’s tick that one off as an area of agreement.

    You need to think a little more broadly. It’s not just benefits to farming industries which matter:

    “One of the most promising approaches is the use of edible plant organs expressing biopharmaceuticals for direct oral delivery. This approach has proven to be efficacious in several clinical vaccination and tolerance induction trials as well as multiple preclinical studies for disease prevention. The production of oral biopharmaceuticals in edible plant tissues could revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry by reducing the cost of production systems based on fermentation, and also eliminating expensive downstream purification, cold storage and transportation costs.”

    Merlin, M., Pezzotti, M., and Avesani, L. (2016) Edible plants for oral delivery of biopharmaceuticals. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacolgy, doi: 10.1111/bcp.12949.

    One day there will have to be something to replace antibiotics and, quite frankly, I would rather get mine from eating a GE plant than being jabbed with a needle or by taking some toxic pill.

    We could grow them in NZ couldn’t we Dave? We are quite good at growing things.

  56. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E I guess the judges decision actually points to problems with the Act as the EPA didn’t have to consider all the relevant information that one would expect them to and it didn’t have to assess it as fit for purpose.

    According to Amy Adams:

    “it is not the job of the authority while in the transitional period to approve the impact assessment; it is its job to receive and ensure that it is completed. That is very clearly what the legislation says.”

    When the the EPA is the body charged with ensuring the environmental acceptability of the activity and the legislation just requires evidence that the documentation is completed, it is a bit of a concern. You did read Amy’s responses to the questions?

    “GE should be considered on a case by case basis to get any level of accuracy on the economic impact.”

    I agree. It is likely that a single case will spark the need for a proper review of the economic impact of releasing it. The economic value that the new organism would provide would have to clearly outweigh the value of our nonGE markets.

    I would be careful about throwing around charges of fitness to govern when this Government has had such a shaky few weeks with many revelations of dodgy decisions. Many chickens coming home to roost😉

    Tracey, I don’t think you have been reading my comments. I am not personally arguing against the potential of GE just advocating a robust process that should be involved before discarding our GE free status. While the legislation is relatively robust there seems to be a determined effort to get around it or ignore it. We wouldn’t want to lose valuable markets on a whim or possibility of success.

  57. TraceyS says:

    I know. Just wanted to hear you say it again.

  58. Mr E says:

    Dave,

    You said ” the EPA approved Anadarko’s spill management plan by only reading the summary”

    A high court Judge of NZ ruled “careful and proper consideration of the completeness of the impact assessment” has been undertaken by the EPA”

    These two statements seem at odds with each other. Do you think you were wrong? Do you think you might owe the EPA an apology?

    Yes I did read Amy Adams statements. I was impressed, they were exacting. Something that appears lacking from some of your recent remarks.

    I wasn’t impressed with the Greens questioning. Gareth repeats questions that were already answered. Comprehension issues there – it seems.

    ‘I would be careful about throwing around charges of fitness to govern when this Government’

    Why don’t you take responsibility for your own actions? Why do you have to deflect attention elsewhere? The Greens seem to want to be considered as a credible alternative – without taking responsibility for their actions. I can’t see that happening.

    Regarding governing acts – you seem mightily confused.

    When the EPA was working on the Anadarko permit, it was applying the ‘Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act’- no longer in affect.

    When the EPA considers GMOs the main act it uses is the HSNO act – which earlier you stated you support.

    You are trying to cast doubt on the EPA with regard to an act which is no longer in place, when infact they would be using the HSNO act which you support.

    I doubt his confusion you have created casts any doubt on the EPA and their ability. I do think though, it does cast doubts on the Green Party and their abilities.

  59. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E twisting the argument won’t work. What was clearly revealed by Amy Adams and the legal decision was that the EPA wasn’t required to do a robust analysis of Anadarko’s management plan. It just had to acknowledge that the documents required had been received, not the appropriateness of the contents.

    The question you need to answer is that if the EPA didn’t have to ensure that Anadarko’s management plan was fit for purpose then who does…? I will be really interested in your response.

  60. Mr E says:

    Dave,

    It is quite clear – one might say obvious, that the EPAs management of the the Anadarko permit has nothing to do with the EPAs management of GMO.

    The laws are quite different, and you yourself have pointed out you support the HSNO act.

    The Anadarko permit has nothing to do with GMO. Nothing at all.

    The only thing in common is the EPA and you have seemingly cleared them of any wrong doing, despite your early accusations, and lack of retraction.

    How about you focus back on GMO. Focusing on the Act that provided the Anadarko permit is pointless. Because that Act no longer exists.

    Why I have to explain this to anyone, least of all a wannabe politician is beyond me.

  61. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ha, Mr E, I used the Anadarko example to show the weaknesses in our systems to protect the environment. If the EPA is an authority charged with ensuring new activities don’t compromise our environment then what will they do when confronted with a request to release a GE organism? Will they just look at the documentation and rubber stamp the fact that it has been completed or will they look a little more deeply at the ramifications? And who is now leading the EPA…
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/rural/280078/epa-defends-appointment-of-new-chief-executive

    Will Freeth declare his conflict of interest when a GE decision is necessary?

    I remember when Lesley Longstone was chosen to lead the Ministry of Education when she had a background of leading the introduction of Charter Schools in the UK.

  62. All the Greens are the same as Dave here – defend the party line and interventionalist ideology no matter what the facts say.

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