Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


NZ's Clean Green Image Hangs in the Balance

New Zealand must retain it's "clean and green" image with overseas markets if it is to benefit from the international demands for organic products, the Hon Phillida Bunkle told the Soil and Health Association Conference, Organics 2020, today.

"If we are to consider our long-term position in the international organic products market, it's clear that New Zealand must make a choice.

"We must choose either a biotechnology-based agricultural sector, or an organics based one. It is time someone waved a huge flag in front of the primary production sector and I am willing to be that person . . . we must maintain the clean, and green image of our primary production sector," she told the conference.

The Associate Minister of Economic Development, Associate Minister for the Environment and Consumers Affairs Minister said that New Zealand needed to make the most of overseas demand for organic products.

"New Zealand, as an internationally recognised "clean green" country is poised to make crucial decisions that will directly affect our ability as consumers to have choice, guaranteed safety, and true information about the food products we purchase."

Ms Bunkle said that Japanese food importer Mr Korekiyo Terada, who addressed the conference yesterday, was convincing in his plea that New Zealand maintain its reputation as having a primary sector considered safe from GE.

Japanese consumer groups had already written to Australian and New Zealand farmers and agri-businesses this year warning that Japanese consumers were concerned about the potential health and environmental hazards of GMOs.

"Last year Japan accounted for 12.7 percent of New Zealand's exports – that's 12.7 percent amounted to $2.9 billion."

Ms Bunkle said her visit on Thursday to the East Coast had firmed her views that organic production was a sustainable means of economic development.

"This Government's economic development policy will invest heavily in projects that sustain communities, sustain the environment and create jobs over the long term."

Ms Bunkle said Government needed to carefully consider its decisions on future strategies around the GE and Organic issues. While the Royal Commission of Inquiry into genetic engineering would address many of those issues, New Zealand still needed to consider its position on organic production.

She will head a special East Coast regional taskforce aimed at developing organics as an economic development opportunity for the region. She is also the only Minister so far, who has put her hand up to be part of an organics taskforce set up by Agricultural Minister Hon Jim Sutton. The ministerial taskforce will look into the promotion of organics.

She also told the conference that labelling of organics was another important part of the debate.

"While this debate continues, it is important that the organic claim is credible. In defining the organic product, we will be able to ensure the integrity of the organic claim. I have made it one of my priorities to address this and inhibit the growth of organic frauds."

Ms Bunkle said that she favoured the idea of an organic labelling system that recognised different degrees of organic purity – the bottom line being spray-free products.

"I rather fancy the idea of a five-star organic product or even better a top grade product being marked by a 'Kiwi Green' sticker!"

Ms Bunkle said she was aware that her views would not be popular in some parts of the primary production sector, but that it was important to debate the issue.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation

Friday will be a big day for people north of Kaikōura – and for hundreds of construction workers who are racing to reopen State Highway 1 in time for the holiday season.

By the afternoon, the South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>


BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Defence Spending, Alabama, And Dolly Parton

The spending lavished on Defence projects to meet the risks that could maybe, possibly, theoretically face New Zealand in future is breath-taking, given how successive governments have been reluctant to spend even a fraction of those amounts on the nation’s actual social needs. More>>


Members' Bills: End Of Life Choice Bill Passes First Reading

The End of Life Choice Bill in the name of David Seymour has been sent to a select committee for consideration by 76 votes to 44. It is the third time Parliament has voted on the issue in recent decades and the first time such a Bill has made it over the first hurdle. More>>


State Sector: MPI Survives Defrag Of Portfolios

The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Vulnerable Kids, RNZ Funding, And Poppy

The decision to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children could well mark a whole shift in approach to the care of children in need... More>>





Featured InfoPages