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GE disastrous for NZ agriculture

GE disastrous for NZ agriculture

The release of GE organisms would be disastrous for New Zealand agriculture, according to the economic impact report released belatedly by the Government, Green Party MP Ian Ewen-Street said today.

"The Government has presented the report as though it makes economic sense to release GE here, but the study shows that staying GE-free would likely have a much more positive impact on the whole economy and farmer returns," Mr Ian Ewen-Street said.

"The BERL report reinforces the reality that we are a market-driven economy. Our main markets have repeatedly told us they reject genetically engineered foods. It would be plain stupid for us to produce something people do not want. Put simply, the report has found that the effect of any increase in productivity from the release of GE crops and animals (even if that existed in reality), would have a minor impact compared to the effect of any decrease in consumer demand (table 6.1)," Mr Ewen-Street said.

"As the report, Economic Risks and Opportunities from the Release of Genetically Modified Organisms in New Zealand, concludes: 'Impacts at the level of the individual industry - especially the agriculture industry - remain significantly large.' This is a risk our farmers are not prepared to take.

"We already do clean, green agricultural production very well - that is what customers want and what they are prepared to pay for. GE would be a disaster for virtually every farmer in New Zealand and would undermine our economic viability," Mr Ewen-Street said.

The report clearly states that staying GE-free could 'increase New Zealand producer returns by 33 per cent' (p xii, para 1), even allowing for an increase in productivity overseas from their adoption of GE (table 6.6, p54). In contrast, the very best that adopting GE in New Zealand could do was to increase producer returns by 25 per cent but this was only under the very unrealistic conditions of there being no change in demand for New Zealand products and that no other country had productivity gains from GE, the report says.

If there was a 20 per cent discount on GE products, producer returns fell by 5.2 per cent (table 6.2, p51), the report shows. If other countries had productivity gains from GE, returns to New Zealand producers fell by 1.3 to 5.2 per cent (table 6.3, p52). "This is a clear and strong message that New Zealand must remain GE-free," Mr Ewen-Street said.

The report also states that, 'For the scenario where New Zealand did not use GMOs, 57 per cent [of respondents] stated that they would be more inclined to purchase products from New Zealand' (p 16, para 2). The report also shows that, conversely, a 20 per cent reduction in demand for exports of dairy, meat and fruit as a result of GE release in New Zealand could lead to a 43 per cent reduction in producer returns, (p xi, para 4). "This would be extremely bad news for farmers, as they clearly could not sustain a 43 per cent reduction in their returns," Mr Ewen-Street said.

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