James Shaw’s regard for science may portend a shift in Green position on GM research

Towards the end of the Prime Minister’s press conference on February 25, someone without much to think about asked Jacinda Ardern what she thought of Huawei’s public relations campaign that compared itself in New Zealand to the All Blacks?

The PM was appropriately dismissive:

It’s not for me to judge the marketing campaign of any private company. All right, thank you, everyone. Last question—I’m feeling generous.

We can be grateful she was of a generous disposition.  The final question raised an issue of interest to agricultural and horticultural scientists:

Media: Are you concerned that your Conservation Minister is blocking any exploration into genetic engineering despite her officials saying that it could be an effective alternative to 1080?

PM: Look, my understanding is that the Minister’s simply expressed that that’s not currently part of the work programme, but hasn’t given a position as definitive as that. Continue reading

Farm leader rebuts GE Free NZ on link between cattle deaths and GM fodder crops

GE Free NZ has raised questions after more cattle deaths were reported in Southland and DairyNZ counselled caution on feeding cows with the increasingly popular winter vegetable crop fodder beet.

This year’s deaths follow several cattle deaths linked with swedes last year.

But Federated Farmers’ President and science spokesperson William Rolleston said recent stock sickness or deaths were likely to have been caused by a high sugar content in the fodder beet the stock have been eating.

He said in a media release in response to GE Free NZ:

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Climate change report puts heat on policy-makers – but sceptics pour cold water

The first section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment has triggered the expected mix of responses – it has amplified calls for urgent policy action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reignited warnings about the credibility of the research. But among many members of the public it was met with a bothersome indifference.

The report, released in Stockholm on Friday, is the first of three volumes making up the AR5.

A Radio NZ report (here) described the assessment as the most comprehensive evaluation so far.

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Study by US govt agencies says a mix of factors is wiping out honeybee colonies

A comprehensive federal government study published in the US says the devastation of American honeybee colonies is the result of a complex stew of factors, including pesticides, parasites, poor nutrition and a lack of genetic diversity.

The report has been published in the same week as European officials took steps toward banning a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, derived from nicotine, that they consider a critical factor in the mass deaths of bees there.

Agcarm, the New Zealand organisation which represents manufacturers and distributors of crop protection and animal health products, challenged the evidence in support of the European Union curbs.

Officials in the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and others involved in the bee study agreed there was not enough evidence to support a ban on one group of pesticides, and that the costs of such action might exceed the benefits.

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