17 Apr 2015

Vanuatu threatens to deport New Caledonia anti-GM group

8:21 pm on 17 April 2015

Vanuatu's government has confirmed that it threatened to deport a New Caledonia-based NGO for spreading what it called unnecessary propaganda about genetically modified plant material.

Planting materials were a common request heard in many of the villages. Most had lost everything in the cyclone. One superstitious farmer told me that only a devil wind would dig out root crops from under the ground and leave them strewn across the ground to spoil.

The cyclone wiped out many crops. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

The government this week banned the import of GM seeds as part of relief supplies after swathes of crops were wiped out by cyclone Pam.

The director of the biosecurity department, Timothy Tumukon, says messages by the NGO, Stop GMO Pacific, were excessive and caused unnecessary fear in communities.

"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."

Timothy Tumukon says Vanuatu has strict regulations surrounding GM food.