Vanuatu threatens to deport anti GMO group
The Vanuatu government has confirmed that it threatened the New Caledonian NGO Stop GMO Pacific with deportation if it continued to spread what the government is calling unneccesary propaganda about the danger of GM plant material.
The Vanuatu government has confirmed that it threatened the New Caledonian NGO Stop GMO Pacific with deportation if it continued to spread what the government is calling unnecessary propaganda about the danger of GM plant material.
The Director of Vanuatu's Biosecurity department Timothy Tumukon told Koroi Hawkins the NGO's messages were excessive and causing unnecessary fear in affected communities.
But he said they were not banned from taking part in NDMO meetings as reported in New Caledonia's only daily newspaper.
TIMOTHY TUMUKON: They were free to talk about what they wanted in terms of stopping GM, GMO's being spread or used in the Pacific. But what they ignored to understand or ignored to take on board was that Vanuatu does not totally ban GMO's or LMO's coming into Vanuatu. The process of whether to allow GMO's or LMO's into Vanuatu is established under the Vanuatu Biosecurity Framework. That is the local policy that manages the importation of such products. So we had informed that their is in existence such a policy but the group tended not to not want to go further to explore the laws that exist. Instead they have been going to the media explaining their own message and their own agenda.
KOROI HAWKINS: The blanket ban that we talked about the other day is that just an emergency, temporary like precautionary measure for this period because you have got so many seeds coming in?
TT: It is a precautionary measure in the interim because we do not have enough time to have a proper assessment on any stuff that is coming in, be it GMO seeds or seeds that have got some GM material in them. So we have just put a blanket ban on anything that has got GMO in it be it seeds or food for that matter.
KH: The other thing that the report said was that they were threatened with deportation if they continued to do what the government wasn't asking them to do. Is that accurate or is that false information?
TT: That is accurate information that we were threatening to deport them because we have got a state of emergency under which we operate. And so under a state of emergency the state is allowed to do whatever it can to ensure that there is no derailing of the food aid program that we are undertaking.
KH: Right and the message that they were spreading, what were they saying to communities that was causing panic that you were saying?
TT: They were passing information in the media to say that the seeds that had come in. Or that are intended to come in, are GM seeds and it has very bad effects for the environment and also for people. If we were to grow them here and Ni Vans would consume it, it can harm them and also can harm the environment at large in terms of the products from these seeds drifting into the environment.
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