PO Box 13402
Wellington, New Zealand

GE-Free New Zealand

in food and environment (RAGE Inc.)

Bizarre' Approval of Golden Rice in New Zealand Shows Dark Side of Biotech

Australians and New Zealanders of all cultures express concern that an approval of GR2 GE rice by New Zealand authorities is adding to the problem of bio-piracy and exploitation of indigenous people's knowledge and resources by biotech companies.

The GR2 Rice is genetically engineered and has recently been approved for commercialisation in the Philippines [1]. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), with partner Syngenta, used a common rice variety developed by the people and inserted genes from daffodils, bacteria and viruses to create Yellow coloured rice in an effort to boost beta-carotene. The crosses to make the bio-pirated GE rice had negligible beta-carotene levels, were stunted, deformed and had low yield [2].

The Philippine GE Rice approval lacked transparency, public consultation, independent comprehensive health risks and environmental impact assessments. Further, many small farmers on the Indian subcontinent and in Asia fear that GR2 genetically engineered genes will contaminate the many hundreds of healthy non-GE indigenous rice varieties and this could lead to claims of property ownership, under patenting rights, by the biotech company Syngenta.

“These devious and unscrupulous dealings show that corporate control of the seed supply is not benevolent but a greedy grab for one of the most important foods for the global community,” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free New Zealand. “The rubber-stamping of the application to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for approval of unsafe yellow GE rice into the food chain shows just one example of corporate manipulation regulatory agencies are willing to overlook.”

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) approved the application to allow GE rice into the food chain, in 2019, admitting the rice had negligible benefit to the Australasian people. Strangely, FSANZ did not require any proof of safety regarding human health. The US FDA said that the GE Rice “does not meet the nutritional requirements to make a health claim”[3].

GE Free NZ fully supports the call by the indigenous communities here and abroad to halt to all corporate manipulation of the food supply and adopt a tolerant, just and equitable, healthy sustainable food system using their developed cultural ecological systems free of GE organisms.

[1] https://grain.org/en/article/6705-golden-rice-in-the-philippines-hurried-approval-raises-questions

[2] Bollinedi, H., S, G. K., Prabhu, K. V., Singh, N. K., Mishra, S., Khurana, J. P., & Singh, A. K. (2017). Molecular and Functional Characterization of GR2-R1 Event Based Backcross Derived Lines of Golden Rice in the Genetic Background of a Mega Rice Variety Swarna. PloS one, 12(1), e0169600. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0169600

[3] https://www.independentsciencenews.org/news/gmo-golden-rice-offers-no-nutritional-benefits-says-fda/

Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731