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Appeal To Marlborough Vineyards To Stay GE-Free

MP Appeals To Marlborough Vineyards To Stay GE-Free

Green MP and Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street today wrote to all Marlborough vineyards and wineries urging them to join the campaign for Marlborough to remain a GE-free zone.

Citing marketing advantages and upholding the reputation of the agricultural industry, Mr Ewen-Street told grape growers and wine producers that it would be in their best interests to keep the whole of New Zealand free from genetic contamination.

"It is the primary production sector - farmers, orchardists and wine producers - who stand to lose the most through negative market reaction to any change in our environmental status," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"New Zealand already has a reputation as the producer of the world's cleanest and safest food. As a farmer myself I know that this is what global markets are demanding and, increasingly, are prepared to pay for.

"Certainly consumers in our main trading markets will actively avoid any food with GE ingredients or products that may have been accidently contaminated."

As the wine industry contributes significantly to New Zealand's exports, Mr Ewen-Street said the industry had an opportunity to make a real impact on the Government's final response to the recently released Royal Commission into Genetic Modification report.

Mr Ewen-Street said only two per cent of the 11,000 submissions to the Royal Commission supported the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment and people now had to make it clear to the Government that New Zealanders want to keep our clean, green status.

"I believe this report is flawed in that it fails to deal with what we as a nation stand to lose from the loss of our GE-free status. The costs associated with releasing genetically engineered organisms into the environment far outweigh any potential benefits," he told them.

"I strongly believe that declaring Marlborough a GE-free zone would be a major marketing advantage for the region. The wine industry plays a huge role in making Marlborough the successful place it is today and, more broadly, generates wealth for the national economy."

Mr Ewen-Street said wine producers should be aware of work overseas to genetically engineer grape vines.

"I believe this type of work would pose a major threat to the reputation of the New Zealand wine industry if it ever surfaced here," he said.

"There is no demand for genetically engineered crops, animals or wine anywhere in the world, so the simple question is - why produce them?"

Ends


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