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Foreign investment highlights the organic advantag

Green Party Agriculture spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street today said it was encouraging that foreign nations were recognising the obvious benefits of producing organic food in New Zealand.

Nikken Foods Ltd, a large Japanese health food company, has recently brought a farm and an old school in the South Island to convert to organic production and processing as well as a health and environmental education centre.

Mr Ewen-Street urged the Government to start taking serious notice of New Zealand's organic potential as it was a tremendous, one-off opportunity.

"Foreign nations are moving their business to New Zealand as they clearly see the merits in producing organic food in a country with a clean, green reputation," said Mr Ewen-Street. "The appeal is also because to date New Zealand is free of genetic engineering and this holds massive appeal to organic producers."

Mr Ewen-Street congratulated Nikken Foods for setting up a 'showcase organic farm' near Oamaru and said the company's investment in the area would be good news for the regional economy.

"There are a number of lessons to be learnt from this purchase, the first being that New Zealand's economic future lies in substantiating our clean, green reputation. We can never compete internationally if we decide to produce the same old genetically engineered commodity crops which are spreading around the world," he said.

"Our future lies in branding ourselves as the cleanest, greenest nation on earth with the world's safest food. Companies like Nikken are the tip of the iceberg and there is no way they would be choosing to come here if we had fields full of genetically engineered corn, wheat, soy or rape," he said.

"Seventy per cent of New Zealanders know our future lies in organics, 70 per cent of those who produce our crops know it too. The public know it, the farmers know it, businesses are fast realising it. The biggest challenge now is to make Government realise."

Mr Ewen-Street said the Green Party's policy of New Zealand as an organic nation by 2020 had never been more pertinent.

Ends

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