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Time for New Zealand to embrace organic future

14 May 2000

Time for New Zealand to embrace organic future

A major conference on organic production in New Zealand kicks off next weekend with the Green Party saying the time has never been better for New Zealand to embrace organic agriculture.

The conference 'Organics 2020' is being held at Auckland's UNITEC campus from May 19 - 20 and is being hosted by the Soil and Health Association. Over 500 delegates are expected to attend, including three Green Party MPs.

Green Party Agriculture spokesperson and organic farmer Ian Ewen-Street said support for the Green Party's policy of an organic New Zealand was building fast. He said increasing demand for organic food combined with a select committee inquiry into the market potential of organics, a Royal Commission of Inquiry into genetic engineering and next week's conference showed the time for organics had arrived.

"The Green Party is delighted that this conference is attracting such interest at a time when global concern about the safety of food has never been higher," said Mr Ewen-Street. "We believe the future of the New Zealand economy lies with producing the cleanest, safest and most sought after food in the world."

Mr Ewen-Street said the global demand for organic food was growing by an average of 20 per cent per year and that a switch to organic production, coupled with the rejection of genetic engineering, could prove to be an economic windfall for farming in New Zealand.

"Organic produce is consistently fetching far higher prices than chemical-treated or genetically engineered produce and with a seemingly insatiable international demand for organics the implications of switching to organic production on the New Zealand economy are obvious," he said.

Mr Ewen-Street said he was looking forward to hearing a wide range of top-quality speakers from New Zealand and overseas and was especially interested to hear Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton explain how he believed genetic engineering could co-exist with organic production.

"As the first hearing of the Primary Production Select Committee inquiry into organics heard last month, the consensus among the organics industry was that genetic engineering is a direct threat to organics and I am sure this view will be strongly expressed at this conference," he said.

"This conference is a huge opportunity to mobilise the organics movement in New Zealand behind a common plan of action," said Mr Ewen-Street. "The key is to communicate the very real benefits of organics to the public and government and the Green Party will be continuing to lobby hard for the adoption of our policy."

Ends

Ian Ewen-Street MP: 04 470 6726, 025 902 527 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133


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