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Greens challenge Feds - find GE food people want


29 August 2001

Greens challenge Feds - find one GE food that people want

Green Agriculture spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street MP today challenged Federated Farmers to identify just one genetically engineered agricultural product in just one of our main export markets for which there is any kind of consumer demand.

Mr Ewen-Street's challenge was in response to comments from Federated Farmers' Lewis Metcalfe opposing the groundswell of public support for Marlborough to be declared a GE-free zone.

"I am stunned that Federated Farmers have failed to comprehend the marketing issues surrounding genetically engineered foods," said Mr Ewen-Street.

Today Tegel announced it was stopping feeding GE feed to its chickens following consumer concern, and Sri Lanka has recently turned away a shipment of New Zealand cheese because it may have contained a genetically engineered ingredient.

"Consumers in our export markets have demonstrated repeatedly that they will go to quite extraordinary lengths to avoid food with genetically engineered ingredients and in fact they will pay very high premiums indeed for the guarantee that their food is not contaminated."

Mr Ewen-Street said the classic example was that of United States corn growers who embraced genetic engineering, only to discover that their export market in Europe collapsed by 98 per cent. The only way these farmers could sell their GE product was as animal feed or as cut price aid to the developing world.

Mr Ewen-Street said the public should bear in mind that Federated Farmers spoke for only a fraction of farmers and that solid data showed that 70 per cent of New Zealand farmers believed the future of this country was in organics and that just 17 per cent of farmers (mainly dairy) support genetic engineering in primary production.

"There is a groundswell of public support from the people of Marlborough for a GE-free region, as there is from the people of New Zealand for a GE-free New Zealand.

"Despite what Federated Farmers would have people believe, most farmers actually support organics over genetic engineering. Farmers know the future is with producing the cleanest, greenest food in the world. Not with producing genetically engineered foods that nobody wants," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"Again I challenge Federated Farmers to point to a single market of New Zealand's that prefer a genetically engineered product over a conventional or organic product. I look forward to their response."

ENDS

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