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Govt spin on GE economics report outrageous

Govt spin on GE economics report outrageous

The Green Party is outraged the Government is trumpeting as a big success for GE, the report released today on the economic impacts of GE release in New Zealand.

"The report actually shows that there are more likely to be negative effects on the economy from GE release than positive effects, under realistic conditions," Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

"The Government has chosen to ignore the parts of the report that show that demand for New Zealand products will dramatically decrease if GE is released here," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"It is outrageous that Ms Hobbs is saying the report is great news for GE because, according to her, there won't be catastrophic effects on the economy. But that's not good enough - if the Government can't show significant benefits for New Zealand from GE release, it should not be exposing us to the risk."

The BERL report, Economic Risks and Opportunities from the Release of Genetically Modified Organisms in New Zealand, was originally due in February.

Ms Fitzsimons said the report shows that although the impact on the overall economy is most likely to be slightly negative or neutral, the impact on the agriculture sector is likely to be devastating. "A 20 per cent decrease in demand for dairy, meat and fruit as a result of GE release in New Zealand could lead to a 40 per cent reduction in producer returns. This is extremely bad news for farmers and growers." [Page XI para 4]

"The key finding of the report is that the negative effects of overseas markets buying less of our products because people don't want GE food, has a much greater economic effect on New Zealand than any positive effects from increased productivity or lowered price," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"It is also interesting to note that 47 per cent of consumers surveyed in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia for the report said that if New Zealand remained GE-free, they would be more inclined to buy New Zealand products; as opposed to only 2 per cent who would be less inclined." [Pages 14 para 2 and table 3.3, p 16 para 2 and table 3.6].

"Where Ms Hobbs says in her press release today that: 'the most likely economic impact from the careful and considered release of GMOs would be a small increase in GDP over 10 years, compared to a small decrease from forgoing GMO releases' - Ms Hobbs is misinterpreting the report," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"The report actually says: '...the actual effect on New Zealand's annual GDP 10 years hence is ... not very great under any of the scenarios. Impacts at the level of the individual industry - especially the agriculture industry - remain significantly large.' The Government has had days to come to grips with the report, and still hasn't grasped its main message," Ms Fitzsimons said.

ENDS

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