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Green Party calls for national organics standard

22 March 2000

Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street said today the future of organics in New Zealand depends on the setting up of a benchmark nation-wide organic standard.

In a speech to Parliament this afternoon, Mr Ewen-Street said New Zealand now had several companies granting 'organic' certification to different standards, with Certenz recently launching a certification business in competition with BioGro and Demeter.

"Certification programmes with different standards can only muddle consumers about what they are actually buying when they purchase organic food from New Zealand. At worst, the multiplicity of standards will lead to competition for clients and cutting corners which may result in lower standards."

Mr Ewen-Street said New Zealand was already slipping behind some of our major export markets who are getting ready to introduce universal benchmark standards for organics, which could put lucrative export markets under threat.

The US Department of Agriculture last week proposed a nation-wide standard for organic food and fibre in America, which would apply to both domestic producers and importers.

"Our traditional organic labels have been widely recognised as some of the strictest in the world, but with the burgeoning of new certification bodies, we need to set a high nation-wide standard to protect the premiums and reputations of our organic farmers," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"The organic market is a unique market because it relies largely on trust. Consumers pay premiums for food labelled as 'organic' in the belief that it is naturally produced with no residual chemicals, no genetically engineered products and no artificial additives. If domestic or overseas consumers cannot have faith that organic food from New Zealand has been grown to these rigorous standards, then they will vote with their dollars and leave it on the shelves."

Ian Ewen-Street MP: 04 470 6727 or 025 902 527 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289


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