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Strong Green Presence At Organics Conference

The Green Party will be the best-represented political party at tomorrow's major conference on the future of organic production in New Zealand, with three MPs attending.

Green Party Agriculture spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street said the conference, 'Organics 2020', was "a very big deal for the Green Party" as the theme of the conference - making New Zealand an organic nation by 2020 - was also Green Party policy.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, Health spokesperson and safe food campaigner Sue Kedgley and Mr Ewen-Street will all be attending the conference. They will all be making speeches with Mr Ewen-Street delivering a keynote address.

"This conference is a wonderful opportunity for interested parties to discuss the potential of switching New Zealand from chemical-dependent agriculture to producing the cleanest, greenest and most sought after food in the world," he said.

"The Green Party firmly believe the future of the New Zealand economy lies in producing predominantly organic food," said Mr Ewen-Street. "As a country which still has the option of completely rejecting genetic engineering this is a huge opportunity - but one which needs to be seized with both hands right now."

Mr Ewen-Street said the dioxin and mad cow scares in Europe coupled with global distrust of the motives and principals of genetic engineering were contributing to an insatiable international demand for safe food. "This demand was growing exponentially and poses an extraordinary opportunity for New Zealand," he said.

Mr Ewen-Street said he was delighted at the high-quality speakers attending the conference and at the high level of public interest.

"This conference is the event which could really get the organics ball rolling in this country," he said. "The Greens are delighted that this conference coincides with a Royal Commission of Inquiry into genetic engineering and a select committee inquiry into the future of organics.

"We are also heartened that so many influential people are supporting our policy of an organic nation."

'Organics 2020' begins Friday 19 May at UNITEC in Auckland

Jeanette Fitzsimons will be delivering an address in the Effecting Change session, 10.45am, Monday 19 May. Ian Ewen-Street will be delivering his keynote address at 8.40am, Saturday 20 May. Sue Kedgley will be delivering an address in the Consumers workshop at around 10am. Green Party press secretary Jonathan Hill will be at the conference. Phone 021 110 1133.

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