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NZ urged to remain GE-free zone

Last updated 05:00 21/05/2013

TARYN UTIGER

ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ

MARCH LEADER: Jill Ridgewell wants to increase awareness of the issues surrounding genetically-modified foods. She will be leading a march in New Plymouth on Saturday.

ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ

New Plymouth woman Jill Ridgewell is making a stand against an international company whose products she believes are harmful.

This Saturday Mrs Ridgewell will lead a march down the main street of New Plymouth to protest against agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto.

Monsanto is the leading producer of genetically-engineered seeds and in 1982 was the first company to genetically modify a plant cell.

Mrs Ridgewell said although Monsanto's seeds were not in the country, New Zealanders should still be concerned about protecting their food supplies.

"We need to continue to be GE-free and we need to be aware of what is happening globally," she said.

Mrs Ridgewell said the march, which starts at 3pm at the corner of Elliot St and Devon St East, would increase awareness about the harmful effects of genetically-modified food.

Mrs Ridgewell said there would be more than 330 marches against Monsanto on May 25. Protests are planned for 41 countries on six continents.

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"Genetically modified foods can lead to serious health conditions.

"The public need to put their 'she'll be right' apathy to the side and do some of their own research and once they do and see the truth, they will be horribly sickened," she said.

Monsanto's website describes the business as one striving to meet the needs of today while preserving the planet for tomorrow.

"We are working to double yields in our core crops by 2030. These yield gains will come from a combination of advanced plant breeding, biotechnology, and improved farm-management practices," the website said.

Monsanto owns a company in New Zealand called Seminis Vegetable Seeds, but Mrs Ridgewell did not think any genetically modified seeds were being used in New Zealand.

"If you go and get vegetables from the supermarket you will be fine.

"This march is an affirmative march, a show of solidarity," she said.

Marches were also planned in seven other New Zealand towns, including Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The international March Against Monsanto Facebook page currently has more than 85,000 members and Mrs Ridgewell was hoping New Plymouth people would get behind the movement.

"We are a GE-free country and we want to stay that way," she said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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