Wednesday, July 27, 2005

GE Maize

What is it with Maize crops, do they just get grown in election years or something?

Todays story that a large consignment of maize in the upper North Island has tested positively for GE contamination is a concern, but shows that the system is working.

The "corngate" story in 2002 was a major factor in the general election of that year, but I think it unlikely that this new episode will effect the political climate in any discernable way. Importantly, the absolute public hysteria about the issue at that time is simply not there now. Why? Because three years on the apocolytic scenarios painted by some campaigners in 2002 have not eventuated.

Our regulations mean that for any GE organism to be released into the environment, it must be shown to be safe. These strict controls have meant that GE organisms have been kept in the lab, and our strict testing procedures have picked up glitches like this one.

All in all, I think that the public and political mood on this issue has settled down, and people are now far more willing to engage in a rational, scientific discussion about the risks of GE.


spooks said...

Michael, I think the word is that this is the sixth incident of its type since the 2002 saga. It's not that they happen at election time, it's more that election time is when they get airtime. Wouldn't want to overplay their delicate little green thumbs, those weirdo friends of yours.

Too Right said...

Michael - why is it a concern? and what system is working?

You better hope you have no need once you grow up for kidney dialysis - GE is the future for health therapy (it's natural you know!) and probably the only area where NZ has a decent comparative advantage in terms of bio-tech. Glaxo (SmithKline) started here you know - nascent bio-tech and GE way back then. We let them slip away. Left wing ideology and demonisation of technology and GE will let the rest slip as well.

There is no hope of NZ becoming rich banging out sheet metal or counting reams of paper or whatever your union manages.

Not just corngate - I predict another round of the Prime Ministers's fraudulent signing of paintings she did not paint. She may have slipped one past a sleepy and adoring Rob Robinson - the Court of public opinion is still sitting.

spooks said...


Removal of interest from student loans
will ... put the country on the very course, in fact, that Dr Cullen was warning about two months ago.

Such consequences will not be concerning Labour. Its sole focus is a third term. It will not be thinking of the price to be paid. Voters should, however, contemplate the policy's unfortunate impact on other, more appropriate, areas of tertiary education funding.

Labour's approach is also highly flawed. The absence of interest payments will surely increase borrowing and encourage students to pay off loans at the minimum rate.

Bribes are, of course, part of the landscape of every election campaign. Few, however, are so obviously calculated to buy votes. Democracy will be poorly served if this is a harbinger of policies to come.

  ° ° °

Not my words, but from today's Herald editorial.

spooks said...

Oops, sorry, wrong thread.

michael wood said...

Spooks, you're right of course. The media will tend to focus more on these types of stories in an election year.

Too Right, I also agree to an extent. Our future economic development does depend on the fostering of a range of high-tech, high-value industries. GE may be part of that.

I'm not a luddite anti-GE type at all. But, given that it is a new technology that carries a range of risks, I think that we have a responsibility to rigorously and scientifically check that any new GE organism is safe before it is released into our environment.