The Labour government for the 3rd time is trying to regulate the use of plants

The Labour government for the 3rd time is trying to regulate the use of plants

New Regulations Seek to Control the Sovereign World of Plants

Guy Hatchard

Given the plethora of wannabe world rulers among the mega corporations, industrial and military powers, political ideologies, media and social media giants, big pharma, intergovernmental and judicial organisations currently competing for global influence, it is worth asking who actually rules the world? Who has the most power?

Undoubtedly the plant kingdom excels. Every individual in the world, in every nation, eats to live each day. Plants have enjoyed a coevolutionary symbiotic relationship with multicellular animal species for at least 500 million years. We have land and aquatic plants to thank for the oxygen we breathe.

Plants derive their timeless world sovereignty directly and continuously from the sun, the earth, and water. Ancient cultures have always revered and employed the life supporting properties of plants.

The ancient Rig Veda refers to them as ‘mothers of mankind’. Maori tradition as children of Tāne, the god of the forest, who separated earth and sky.

Our health and food security is inextricably tied up with that of the plant kingdom. We should make it a priority to protect the integrity of the plant world. We should seek to maintain an alliance with plants, not just in a metaphorical sense but in actuality use our knowledge and influence to sustain their sovereignty and protect their evolutionary genetic structures which underpin our own health.

Is the Sovereignty of Plants a Credible Global Political Agenda?

Respect for the sovereignty of plants dictates actions that can protect our world. Plants transcend national boundaries, their cultivation and use can unify the interests of diverse peoples. Within this concept lies the solution to many of the world’s problems:

Climate — Pollution — Hunger — Peace — Disease

The plants form an army that can defeat all these scourges of modern life.

The Materia Medica of Ayurveda, the ancient health system of India, records 5000 medicinal plants including the methods of their collection, use, and combination. Abbess Hildegard of Bingen enumerated multiple uses of herbs in the 12th century. These are just the tip of the iceberg, there are nearly 400,000 known species of plants.

Aside from food and medicine, throughout history they have been used to make furniture, cutlery and crockery, dwellings, transport, clothing, energy, and much more. All of this can be accomplished without causing pollution.

The Political Agenda of the Sovereign World of Plants:

  • Outlawing experimentation on the genetics of plants and animals
  • Rediscovering and valuing non-polluting skills that utilise plants and trees
  • Reviving the traditional herbal healing methods known by multiple cultures
  • Organic agriculture free of chemicals which exhaust the soil and kill bees
  • Teaching sustainable practices for gardening, horticulture, and agriculture
  • Managing climate change through planting and preservation
  • Improving food supply by increasing the use of plants in diets
  • International sharing and celebration of the wonders of plants
  • Outlawing patents on any genetic sequences derived from plants

Unlike political institutions, the capacity of plants to solve problems cannot be corrupted by power. Yet in our modern life, we have lost the sense of respect, utility, and thanks that plants deserve. We have forgotten the healing properties of plants and many of their other uses. Along with the families of animals, fish, and birds we have began to view them as something to exploit.

Control of the World’s Food Supply is the Ultimate Financial Prize

For the hungry mega corporations, wresting control of our food supply from nature is a mouth watering prospect. It appears to offer an assured source of income and profit stretching into the future. Concern for the consequences of commercial plant production and exploitation is notable by its absence.

Since the patenting of plants is outlawed by international patent law, particularly pharmaceutical and biotech companies have sought to usurp the sovereignty of plants by registering patents over key components of their genetic structures or by slightly altering and thus maiming their structure using genetic manipulation, and then patenting the resulting GM types.

Simultaneously commercial interests are seeking to restrict the use of medicinal herbs by promoting draconian regulation. Andrew Little, the New Zealand Minister of Health, has announced he will be introducing legislation later this year to control the availability of natural products. This will be the third attempt by the Labour Party to do so, two previous attempts were abandoned due to public opposition.

The International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA), of which Medsafe is a member, has a register of hundreds of traditional herbs and plants whose use it wishes to restrict whilst simultaneously approving over 3,000 synthetic or chemical copies. NZ plans to adopt their register.

9 ways ICMRA Members are Affecting Regulations Around the World

1. Herbs, Natural Health Products, and Traditional Medicines are being assessed as pharmaceuticals with a plan to establish regulations mandating standardised dosages of extracted or synthesised ‘active’ ingredients.

2. Database information is being shared between regulators from different countries which restricts herbs using the ‘Rule of Doubt’—absence of modern scientific information is sufficient to implement a ban despite a long term history of traditional safe use.

3. Herbs, vitamins, and remedies are then classified as medicines only available to be used by registered doctors. This grants medical authorities back door “patents” on indigenous plants that will have a global reach within all member countries without having to invoke patent law. Already hundreds of Ayurvedic, Chinese, and other traditional herbs have been stolen in this way, despite the fact that international law forbids the patenting of plants.

4. A bogus argument has been advanced that plants grown in soil are not standardised like pharmaceutical drugs and may vary slightly in composition. The supposed remedy is the production of synthetic copies of herbs and active ingredients in laboratories. They are approved for food and drink using the discredited principle of ‘Substantial Equivalence’ which allows manufacturers to adulterate traditional remedies and produce cheap ineffective copies without labelling—a process that is accelerating rapidly.

5. Many thousands of additives, preservatives, colourings, fragrances, and processing agents are being approved. In many cases, these substances have been implicated as causal factors in cancer, ADHD, and many other chronic illnesses.

6. Enforcement of Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) testing and industrial manufacturing standards, sufficiently costly to bankrupt small and medium sized companies, which will gift competitive advantage to global companies.

7. Compulsory proprietary information collection on Natural Health Products and traditional herbs which will inevitably be shared with pharmaceutical companies through revolving doors and cosy relationships allowing the commercial appropriation of traditional knowledge.

8. The new standards being proposed are setting the maximum daily dose of nutritional supplements equal to the minimum proven therapeutic dose. For example studies show that the minimum effective dose of vitamin B12 is 50mcg which is being set as the maximum dose allowed in supplements. This means that retail B12 supplements will be ineffective in treating B12 deficiencies. Only a medical doctor will be permitted to prescribe the larger effective doses. Retail supplements produced by natural health companies with restricted doses will fall into disuse, in favour of synthetics sold by pharmaceutical and nutraceutical giants as prescribed medicines.

9. Regulatory-style laws hand control of natural medicine regulation to ICMRA rather than national governments. This subverts national sovereignty, undermines indigenous knowledge, and takes the right to choose natural medical treatment away from people everywhere.

New Global Regulation Threatens Alternative Approaches to Health Just When Science is Verifying Their Effectiveness

Modern research has shown that development and treatment of disease is affected by a great number of individual factors including: digestion, diet, genetics, lifestyle, environment, climate, psychology, relationships, fatigue, stress, comorbidities, age, and gender.

Traditional medicine offers a range of individualised approaches to healthcare that take account of these wide range of factors. Traditional and functional medicine involve the care of a skilled and knowledgeable physician to prevent ill health and restore good health by strengthening physiological processes, digestion, and re-establishing balance.

In Contrast Modern Medicine is in Crisis

  • Antibiotic and anti-fungal resistance threatens to render routine operations life-threatening by 2050.
  • Healthcare costs and chronic disease incidence are increasing so rapidly, that healthcare is being rationed in many countries.
  • More than 50% of the population now suffer from chronic diseases.
  • Adverse reactions to prescription drugs are now the third leading cause of death.
  • New diseases are emerging and old diseases re-emerging.

The List of Planned Restrictions is Surprisingly Wide

The shopping list of those planning to cut off our access to traditional remedies is very long and largely incomprehensible until you realise that there are commercial companies seeking to control their supply and secure the profits that can be made via monopoly control based on over regulation.

Even common kitchen herbs and spices have not escaped the notice of regulators taking inexplicable decisions to suit commercial interests.

More than 50% of the public have been using their own money to buy natural health products. This supports individual health and reduces the financial burden of public healthcare.

This advantage will be lost if the new restrictions are introduced, leaving the public without medical choice and governments in the hands of international pharmaceutical monopolies.

New scientific findings are coming to light that plant genetics plays a role in supporting health which cannot be provided by synthetic production. Genetic information in plants is the missing element in our understanding of nutrition. Therefore the proposals to regulate, restrict, and exploit plants in every country pose a threat to the sources of our human genetic stability.

We have shared our long journey of evolution with plants. The present time of global crisis is not the time to forget or destroy our long-time supporters who are silently offering us a life line in troubled times, as they have throughout past ages.

Please share this information widely with your friends. Contact your MP now to register your opposition to the proposed new regulations.

Genetically Modified Organisms Are Once Again a Hot Topic

Renewed Push to Deregulate GMOs in New Zealand

Biotech lobbyists have been playing the long game on GMO deregulation, and now a 2021 report from the Productivity Commission recommending a review of our strict GMO laws is being used to advance the cause, with little genuine scrutiny by media.

16 April 1News segment on GMO deregulation.

segment declaring Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are once again a ‘hot topic’ aired on 1News, on 16 April, after the Government responded to calls for a review of New Zealand’s moratorium on genetic modification by the Productivity Commission with some immediate recommendations.

However, whether it is a ‘hot topic’ with anyone but media and their advertisers is debatable.

In its 2021 Reaching for the Frontier report, the commission, which is headed by Berl economist Ganesh Nana, states:

“Modern genetic modification (GM) technologies such as gene-editing offer potential new opportunities for boosting productivity, improving health outcomes, reducing biosecurity risks, and responding to climate-change risks and other environmental problems effectively and efficiently. The regulatory framework for GM tools was last reviewed in 2001 and does not reflect technological advances since that time. The Government should review the GM regulatory framework, to ensure it is fit for purpose and supports domestic innovation. This review should include wide engagement with industry, Māori and the general public. It should assess consumer attitudes, and the potential impacts on New Zealand firms who wish to retain GM-free status, and on New Zealand’s reputation and brand more generally.”

On 8 April, the Government said it considered it timely to start “informed conversation around New Zealand’s use of GM technologies”, although using a “proceed with caution” approach.

What followed was a volley of news reports heavily slanted towards deregulation, and notable either for lacking a consumer point of view, or for failing to take comment from the country’s long-standing activist organisation GE Free NZ, which has taken fewer and fewer calls from journalists with each passing year – almost in direct relationship to the rise of the Science Media Centre’s (SMC) influence on science reporting in New Zealand.

The SMC is considered by some to function more as a front group for corporate science than a resource for journalists, and its funding remains obscure. SMC wields considerable influence on science reporting.

Part of the biotech lobby’s current pitch is that the introduction of GMOs and gene editing is inevitable, even though there is no substantive debate about the science or the ethics in the public domain.

One wonders how much lobbying has made it a news priority, frankly.

Lessons From Britain

The timing is unsurprising, coming just a month after the UK removed the final barriers to GMO field trials, something it has been working on diligently since the UK left the European Union. The UKs Environmental Protection Act 1990 was amended, creating a regulatory exemption for field trials of GMOs that could have been created through traditional breeding or “occurred naturally”.

British anti-GMO lobby group Beyond GM said the amendment was voted through without much opposition, and without accompanying scientific guidance on how to determine if a GMO is ‘natural’. 

“We are told this guidance will come at the end of April, however this will be non-statutory and, therefore, non-binding.”

Under the new rules, field trials can be conducted in Britain with minimal paperwork and without a license. Trial crops will not be required to be collected and destroyed, the public will not be required to be given notice of when, where or the extent of field trials and the exempted class plants is not limited to agricultural crops but is extended to trees, flowers, shrubs and grasses. Startlingly, there will be no requirement for separation from organic and non-GMO fields.

It’s hard not to see this laxness as an attack on nature, natural foods and the organic industry. There are widespread conflicts of interest among members of the ‘independent’ government advisory body the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), who also have connections to the biotech industry, which stands to gain from weaker regulation of agricultural GMOs.

Given this major coup for the biotech lobby after decades of persistent work, it’s fairly inevitable that they would seek to capitalise on it to push for deregulation elsewhere.

Should New Zealand embrace GM Crops?

GE Free NZ president Claire Bleakley says the Productivity Commission report uses “the same mantra” that was used 25 years ago to argue for deregulation of the failed early GE technology of transgenics.

“New Zealand cannot afford industry to avoid necessary precaution and regulation. The Productivity Commission report fails to value Nature itself, the existing opportunities for authentic climate action and the longer-term importance of bio-integrity in natural systems. There is also value in Brand New Zealand being recognised by international consumers for safe, natural food, high standards of animal welfare and meeting the global demand for non-GMO Food.”

Bleakley says the push to normalise foods containing genetically modified ingredients is also worrying. Greenwashing is being used to sell The Impossible Burger, a soy-based fake meat product containing genetically modified soy leghemoglobin, which makes it ‘bleed’ like real meat, and which can now be found on supermarket shelves and on Hell’s Pizza.

There had been no long-term trials of synthetic plant based meat alternatives on people or evidence of nutritional benefits, she says.

“Everything in the product is divorced from nature. The GMO soy isolate and potato starch, which could be genetically engineered, are derived from plants heavily sprayed with pesticides before being highly refined (which evades requirements for products to be labelled as GMO).”

Industrially grown GMO soy and potato threaten the environment due to the heavy pesticide use and deforestation to grow crops, while more energy is required to process them into “highly degraded” products, she says.

The 1News report makes the claim that the public is no longer as engaged with the GMO issue, but lobbyists have been playing the long game. For decades they have been chipping away at changing young people’s attitudes around genetic modification, been caught paying off academics to promote GMOs as safe, tracked journalists producing unfavourable reports, and promoted fake foods as environmental saviours. Simultaneously, there has been a well-funded campaign to demonise livestock production.

Young people today commonly believe a vegan diet of highly processed ‘plant-based’ foods, grown with heavy use of agricultural chemicals, is better for the environment than organic and regeneratively produced meat and that gene editing is not a risk for health or the environment.

Alongside this, smear campaigns directed towards anyone publicly questioning the necessity for and safety of GMOs and gene editing are standard procedure.

How many young people know about the scandalous Séralini Affair, in which a highly credentialed geneticist was ruthlessly attacked and de-famed after showing that genetically engineered Roundup ready maize and and low doses of glyphosate caused cancer in rats? It is long forgotten despite its prescient lessons for the covid era.

Rats from the 2012 Séralini study of Roundup ready maize and glyphosate, which developed tumors when studied for longer than three months.

I interviewed Professor Gilles Eric Séralini in 2013, and he told me: “They are modifying the world at an industrial speed, making new forms of life saying, ‘Oh they are very new and interesting, but we don’t want to test them for longer than three months’.

“So, this is the first proof that it is a crazy world. And you have a few scientists in the European Commission saying, ‘They will be a good product and good for the economy but we’re not going to show anyone the blood analysis of this rat because it’s confidential business information’.”

Nearly 10 years later the industry has made steady progress towards both deregulation and public acceptance of genetic engineering. European Union plans to cut the use of pesticides in half by 2030 are under attack from the well-resourced pesticide industry lobby group CropLife Europe. Despite lobbying tactics being now well documented, consumers remains highly susceptible to deep pocketed public relations campaigns in support of genetic modification and gene editing.

“They are modifying the world at an industrial speed, making new forms of life,” says Gilles Eric Séralini.

The media has long been glaringly biased on this issue. Even the 1News report came over more like an argument for deregulation than an exploration of the risks and benefits. After two years of stifling scientific debate around covid-19, no-one should be surprised to learn this approach is a well-worn playbook, with lessons from Séralini and other scientists who have spoken up about the dangers of GMOs and agricultural chemicals and been aggressively attacked and censored.

So stay alert for a steady stream of news stories, opinion pieces, even television specials, in the coming months arguing we need to let scientists be as reckless as they want for the good of the country. In the past it has usually been argued on the basis of a perceived economic benefit and being ‘left behind’, despite a paucity of evidence that these technologies can deliver on their claims, while the dangers of messing with mother nature are generally dismissed as non-serious.

Today, talking points are heavily focused on the environment: that we ‘need’ gene editing to combat climate change and even save New Zealand’s native biodiversity from extinction – anything they think the public might swallow.

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