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Thriving Organics Industry Highlights GE Threat

Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street MP today said news that the New Zealand organics industry will generate around $110 million this current financial year showed what New Zealand stood to lose if genetically engineered organisms were released into the environment.

Figures from New Zealand's Organic Products Exporters Group (OPEG) predict domestic and export sales of our organic produce will rise from $65 million last year to around $100 million this year. OPEG predict these sales will reach $500 million by 2006 and say the value of the domestic organics market is doubling annually.

"These figures are timely given that on Friday the Royal Commission into Genetic Modification will report to Government and make a series of recommendations on what path this country should take in relation to genetic engineering," he said.

"It is important that people realise that organics and genetic engineering in agriculture are mutually exclusive. Genetic engineering poses a serious threat to organics because of the possibility of horizontal gene transfer and pollen contamination. The two simply cannot co-exist."

Mr Ewen-Street said he was delighted but not surprised that the organics industry was showing such strong and sustained growth. He said the report from the inquiry and the Government's response to it would be critical in determining the future of this industry.

"New Zealand trades heavily on our clean green image and organics helps give that image some real substance. People buy our produce because they believe it to be cleaner and safer than food produced in other countries," he said.

"New Zealand currently has a massive economic advantage in being GE Free and our organics industry is thriving as a result. If we keep genetic engineering out of our environment and commit to producing the cleanest, safest food in the world our agricultural and horticultural sectors will benefit enormously."

Ends




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