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GE-free stance sets example for the world

Professor Don Huber, a plant pathologist, at a workshop in Wairarapa on Monday. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

An American plant pathologist says New Zealand is setting a positive example on the world stage for its GE free stance.

Don Huber, a former professor at Purdue University, Indiana, is in the country attending a range of agricultural conferences and meetings discussing disease control and crop productivity.

Mr Huber gave a talk to about 50 people in Featherston on Sunday about the impacts that genetically modified organism (GMO) production was having on human health.

He also ran a workshop in Greytown on Monday.

His kiwi visit was to impart knowledge gained during his 55 years of research, in the hope “that NZ doesn’t make some of the same mistakes we [America] have”.

He said NZ set an example to the rest of the world by providing “healthy and nutrient-dense” food products.

“You have tremendous opportunities [here in NZ].

“You’re one of the very few countries that hasn’t polluted the soils and general environment with the genetically engineered proteins — many of those we don’t even know what they are or what the full safety effects are, we are just know we are seeing the health effects.”

Mr Huber said the deterioration of health in America was “extremely serious” reaching “epidemic proportions”, and there was a “direct correlation” between this and GMO toxicity.

Many safety studies on GMOs had until recently been kept from the public arena, he said, and research coming to light was enabling experts to evaluate the effects on human health.

He said about 32 diseases had so far been linked to GMO proteins, including some cancers, inflammatory bowel-type diseases, diabetes, depression, neurological conditions, and obesity.

To date, no fresh produce grown in NZ is genetically modified.

“I hope that [NZ] maintains that so that the rest of the world has the encouragement to maybe follow suit.”

Mr Huber said NZ was “a very important niche in the food supply system”, and he hoped politicians would not succumb to the “tremendous pressure” being applied to adopt GMO practices by companies with patents on the products.

“I think future historians will look back and write about our time — not about how many pounds of pesticides we did or didn’t apply, but about how willing we are to sacrifice our children and jeopardise future generations with this experimental process we call genetic engineering that’s based on flawed science and failed promises just to benefit the bottom line of the commercial enterprise.”


  1. Captured by the potential to (de)form nature to man’s wishes, people can easily be led to believe that we are in for a great future..
    The GE technology has now been fully taken hold of by large companies, interested in profit above all.
    As one can deduce from Huber’s talk: man have largely chosen to ignore that the products of the GE technology have undesirable effects. The consumption of G E food products has a close trend with the occurrence of many forms of illness. But people’s awareness as I see it is still rather low. The reliance on the media, which get their information frequently and emphatically from producing businesses is very strong. This information is one sided, to serve the sales of products. The illnesses could be seen as nature’s response on man’s intrusion through the genetic engineering process imposed on living organisms.

    The GE applications developed at present are leading to dependence of large groups of people and to concentration of power, which one could call a sickness in the social realm.
    If we want to have a positive future for later generations we will have to change tack.

    One of these is to have scientific research carried out by scientists which find satisfaction in independent pure scientific work. Scientists who will get their brief for research issued by a body aimed at wellbeing of man and nature as their principal objective.
    Another is to enable the news media to gather independently their information; free from pressure from business interests. Largely through independence from a ‘recognised established’ body or authority people like Dr Huber are able to freely bring their failures to the fore.

  2. Our farming family would have loved to hear Professor Huber speak- his credentials are impressive and he is right on the money- NZ must retain its existing valuable GE free status. We are in the business of producing the best, clean and safe, nourishing food for the most discerning markets. Our customers do not want GE. It is a disgrace that the National Party continues to try and block the good work of local councils to put in place a much needed tier of local protection against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs. The councils (Northland, Auckland, Hawke’s Bay etc) excellent precautionary and prohibitive GE policies are necessary given serious deficiencies in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, as identified by Local Government NZ, many councils and primary producer boards. We are very proud that all councils from south Auckland to the very tip of Far North have precautionary and prohibitive GE policies, totally supported by Northland primary producers, local mana whenua and other ratepayers.

  3. If Dr. Huber would be so kind to supply the actual data he promised so very long ago we could replicate his work and confirm his hypothesis. Science awaits.

  4. Excellent commentary. These are just the stories we need to hear and read instead of the sycophantic nonsense and pseudoscience from those wanting to “save” food production and the world with deadly and unknown GMOs. Our politicians and their corporate mates need to note these facts. Judgement for those pushing their discredited claims will not be kind.

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