Claire Bleakley of GE Free New Zealand has been at the annual conference for the GM Free Alliance, a group of NGOs representing Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. She has sent us this report:

GE free activists in New Caledonia have been very successful in stopping the importation of GM seeds into New Caledonia and they are looking to find places where they can access knowledge and seed for seed saving.

As the Pacific is being hit by climate disasters regularly it has been found that the indigenous small farmers are being hit hard.  Aid donors are giving them hybrid, often GMO seeds to plant for the next season.  When they are given these seeds they expect that these will be able to be saved and replanted, not realising that they are for one season only.   Local farmers have no concept of hybrid one- season seed growth and do not have the money to buy the seeds annually.    

Unfortunately there is no regulation in these countries relating to the importation of GM seeds and they often follow the US and FSANZ approval recommendation for GM foods. The conference decided that to combat this we would like to set up a support package that provides heirloom, open pollinate seeds to the islands in such disasters, as well as information on the differences between the various seeds. The islanders are mostly subsistence farmers who grow with the seasons and without chemicals.

If you or your organisation can help with know-how for seed saving and are willing to be be part of a New Zealand aid and response package for New Caledonia please contact Claire Bleakley on claire@gefree.org.nz  to discuss. Thank you!

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