PO Box 13402
Wellington, New Zealand

GE-Free New Zealand

in food and environment (RAGE Inc.)


Lesson for NZ in drought tolerant maize pushed on Africa by Monsanto


drought t maizeAnother case of failed traits in genetically engineered (GE) crops shows New Zealand has dodged a bullet by maintaining our production systems and environment as GE Free.

New Zealand has been criticised for being slow to follow the push to deregulate genetically engineered (GE) crops, which has been seen overseas but without any safety studies or history of safe use.

However, the record of failure of GE to deliver claimed benefits, including tackling climate change, should be a wake up call for NZ political parties looking to weaken or exempt Gene Edited crops from regulation in the belief that they are the same as naturally cross-bred crops.

"Political parties trying to justify deregulation of Genetic Engineering must think again," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ.

The misleading industry hype and failed performance of Bayer’s drought tolerant MON 87460 GE corn has seen The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), challenging the approval. [1] The case detailed the lack of any substantive data on performance and yield, citing the dismal failure of the corn in the US. [2]

GE Free NZ sees this landmark case as a litmus test for sovereignty of African countries. This GE corn has been shown to have worse performance and yield. Its potential to contaminate traditional varieties and force small farmers to buy seed due to the GM patents and second generation sterility, all increase the risk of famine.

Africa has consistently grown non-GE corn with good results in dry conditions. Traditionally bred corn using the push -pull system of management has shown to be able to withstand and have higher yields than GE corn in rain restricted areas. Further it has been shown the inserted transgenic genes stunt the corn’s growth and make it more susceptible to pest attacks.

In 2018, the South African Government rejected an application to plant a triple stacked GM corn due to insufficient data on drought and insect resistance. [3] Then, South Africa’s Executive Council did approve the single trait of Bayer’s drought tolerant GM corn developed by Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project, funded by Monsanto/Gates Foundation. Even though Byers application admitted that
“MON 87460 corn is still subject to yield loss under water-limited conditions at key development stages, particularly during flowering and grain fill periods when corn yield potential is most sensitive to stress by disrupting kernel development. Under severe water deficit, corn grain yield for MON 87460 corn, as with other corn hybrids, can be reduced to zero.” (p.2) [4]

“We support the points Sabrina Masinjila, of the ABC, who identifies the most effective ways of supporting farmers,” said Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ. “These are through agroecological approaches that focus on small-scale diverse sustainable agriculture; locally adapted seed and ecological farming. These methods address the complexities of climate change, hunger, poverty, and productive demands on agriculture in the world.”

[1] Judgment On ACB’s High Court Review Of Monsanto’s Alleged Drought Tolerant GM Trait Pending: https://acbio.org.za/gm-biosafety/acb-high-court-monsanto-gm-drought-tolerant-trait-pending/
[2] Failure Of Monsanto’s Drought Tolerant Maize Pushed On Africa – Confirmed In US https://acbio.org.za/gm-biosafety/failure-monsantos-drought-tolerant-maize-pushed-africa-confirmed-us/
[3]SA Government Rejects Monsanto’s Triple Stacked GM Drought Tolerant Maize: https://acbio.org.za/gm-biosafety/sa-government-rejects-monsantos-triple-stacked-gm-drought-tolerant-maize/
[4] Aphis USDA Bayer application for MON 87460 final.pdf https://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/09_05501p_dpra.pdf

Claire Bleakley - president 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet - spokesman 0210507681