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Dairy merger time to reassess $150m GE funding

18 June 2001

attention agriculture / rural reporter

Dairy merger time to reassess $150m genetic engineering funding

If the aim of today's merger of New Zealand's dairy industry is to maximise exports and profits then farmers must stop the $150 million of funding which has been allocated for genetic engineering in dairying, Green Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street said today.

"While the Greens welcome today's move to a unified and co-operative dairy company, farmers must be aware of the global rejection of genetically engineered foods and realise that their future lies in providing markets with the cleanest, greenest and safest food in the world," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"The first and most obvious step for a truly consumer-driven dairy company would be to immediately halt the genetic engineering experiments started by the Dairy Board and instead invest in clean and natural production techniques such as organics."

Mr Ewen-Street said last week's decision by New Zealand Dairy Foods to adopt a GE-free position showed that dairy producers were getting the message loud and clear that genetically engineering either cows or pasture was an economic dead end, especially given that organic exports are currently going through the roof.

"Milk is a drink which exemplifies the concepts of natural, wholesome and life-giving. We should concentrate on enhancing that image by increasing our organic research and production, instead of pouring money into genetic engineering research which works against that fresh, natural brand," he said.

"If, at the end of the day, dairy farmers sit back and let this large-scale genetic engineering research continue then today's merger may achieve nothing.

"There is no point in turning your industry on its head in a massive restructuring if you are not prepared to challenge previous decisions and directions that work against the very goals of the merger," said Mr Ewen-Street.

ENDS

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