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Greens disagree with Feds over genetic engineering

22 November 2000

Greens disagree with Feds over genetic engineering

Green MP and organic farmer Ian Ewen-Street today disputed the argument of Federated Farmers that farmers should have access to genetic engineering to allow them to respond to market choice.

"Farmers must always bear in mind that they grow products in order to sell them and what they produce is increasingly dictated by the demands of the consumers," he said.

"The reality is that consumers simply do not want to buy genetically engineered crops and are, in fact, prepared to pay a premium to avoid them."

Mr Ewen-Street said farmers should not be seduced by the shallow promises of easier production if, ultimately, there is no market for what they are producing.

He said planting of genetically engineered crops in the United States is declining rapidly as markets and consumers reject the crops.

"The only way US farmers can get rid of most of their production is to use it as animal feed or to dump it onto the third world as 'aid'. Now some McDonalds outlets in the UK will not buy any meat from animals which have been fed GE crops," he said.

"New Zealand already trades heavily on its clean green image and producing GE food here would identify New Zealand globally as a 'GE country'. Our priceless point of differentiation from our competitors would then be lost.

"Federated Farmers also need to start considering a recent poll of farmers that showed overwhelmingly that farmers did not see their future as involving genetic engineering. Like the Green Party, farmers quite correctly see their future with organics."

Ian Ewen-Street MP: 04 470 6726, 025 902 527 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 44 00 90

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