PO Box 13402
Wellington, New Zealand

GE-Free New Zealand

in food and environment (RAGE Inc.)


Would a U.S. Free Trade Deal force New Zealand to adopt GE?


heirloom mexican corn Three political parties, National, ACT and TOP, have declared that if they win the election they will “end the ban on GE”.  This would allow the National Party to progress a U.S. Free Trade agreement signalled at the last election. It cannot, however, be negotiated until New Zealand deregulates genetic engineered organisms (GE). [1]

“We should be very suspicious about any Free Trade deals that requires interference with our sovereignty,” said Claire Bleakley. “We cannot compromise our economy by allowing the deregulation and release of GE organisms into the environment, when the science shows there are so many risks and unknown effects from GE.” [2]

The US aggressively markets their bioengineered innovations around GE food plants and challenges any move that threatens the potential to disrupt trade into the market. This was apparent when the US and Canada disputed a Mexican Supreme Court ruling on GE corn. [3] The Canadian Government chose to disregard the Canadian Farmers Union who opposed Canada’s stand.”[4]

Concerns arose when Mexico detected their indigenous landrace corn/maize seeds were becoming contaminated with GE corn, which, if sold or regrown, could trigger proprietary patent rights. [5]

In 2020, the Mexican Supreme Court upheld a class action lawsuit, calling for a ban on the importation of GE corn. The law suit was taken by a collective of 57 Mexican businesses, organisations and indigenous people. It was opposed by Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer-Dupont, and Dow Agrosciences. The Supreme Court ruled that the indigenous collective must be able to grow their native corn without the threat of GE contamination [6].  The Mexican Government passed a decree banning the importation of GE corn for the food supply, in response to the Supreme Court decision. [7]

Internationally, Mexico has the highest number of corn/maize varieties and is the centre of the traditional maize landraces. The cultivation of corn can be traced back 6,500 years. Indigenous Mexican people are very reliant on maize as a staple food source. Their dependence on corn is economic, essential for food security and has a spiritual significance. 

[1] https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/112848743/national-want-free-trade-agreement-with-the-us-bypass-un-for-sanctions 
[2] https://foe.org/resources/ge-soil-microbes/
[3] https://halifax.citynews.ca/2023/08/25/canada-to-join-u-s-trade-fight-with-mexico-over-genetically-modified-corn-products/
[4] https://www.nfu.ca/nfu-asks-canada-not-to-join-us-mexico-gm-corn-dispute-panel/
[5] https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/the-patent-landscape-of-genetically-modified-organisms/
[6] https://www.resilience.org/stories/2021-12-08/mexico-scores-historic-legal-victory-in-defense-of-native-corn/ 
[7] https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-says-wont-modify-decree-gm-corn-ahead-usmca-panel-2023-08-21/
Claire Bleakley – 027 348 6731
Elvira Dommissee - 021 057 5123