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Soil & Health Thrilled At Govt Investment

21-3-06

The Soil & Health Association of NZ is thrilled at the support that the Government is giving organics.

On Monday the funding of $1.5 million to Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) was announced by Trevor Mallard, as Mr Peters was announcing positive concern for organic exports in discussion of NZ's position on Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) at Biosafety talks in Brazil.

The improvements in environmental sustainability and the economic advantage for New Zealand, by the assistance to New Zealand's organic sector umbrella group, will be advantaged by stronger positions around GE. The improved GE position taken by our officials in Brazil is a start, said Soil & Health's Steffan Browning.

However the advantages of value added price premiums to New Zealand producers from the rapidly growing international organic market, unfortunately could also be diminished if the statement on LMOs made yesterday by Government Ministers is followed.
LMOs (living genetically modified organisms) in organic produce is unacceptable and the suggestion by Mr Peters and Mr Benson-Pope that a little bit of contamination (adventitious) in shipping will be OK, is unacceptable.

This very aspect is being challenged by organic groups in Europe opposed to the regime of contamination acceptance recently mooted there. Why should NZ detract from our positive point of a GE Free Clean Green marketing difference to our customers there?

Clearly the improved and welcomed stance taken by NZ in Brazil was tempered by trading pragmatism, but Soil & Health hopes that an opportunity will arise for an assurance from our Ministers that zero GE tolerance remains the measure for imports into New Zealand and non GE exports out.

Yesterday's statement suggests a movement of acceptance by the Ministers that small scale contamination may be both unavoidable and as a consequence acceptable. While Mr Benson-Pope was referring to the Protocol section dealing in deliberate trade in LMOs, the reference to the unintended and technically unavoidable presence of LMOs in other shipments is disturbing, said Browning.

Soil & Health members expect zero GE contamination in their food and environment, and stringent procedures can provide that security.
Strong biosecurity measures and a New Zealand focused on improving its sustainability practices can grow the Clean Green image for export produce and tourism.

Yesterdays funding announcement supports these advantages, but the LMO position needs improvement.

However the positive statements and financial support towards organics in New Zealand by three Government Ministers yesterday is an indicator of a possible very bright future for organic production and deserves applause. Thank you from Soil & Health.

ENDS

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