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Greens set the standard for organic industry

4 November, 2003
Greens set the standard for organic industry

The Green Party is hailing a victory for New Zealand's organic produce industry, with the launch today of national standards for organic certification.

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street said the establishment of national standards has now put in place the necessary requirements to protect the rapidly expanding organics sector in New Zealand. Two Green Party budget initiatives provided funding for the development of the national standards and the development of a production strategy for the organics industry.

The need for standards emerged from a comprehensive Primary Production select committee inquiry into the organics industry in New Zealand, which was initiated by Mr Ewen-Street, the Green Organics spokesperson.

"The organics industry now turns over $140 million per year and has been growing at a rate of over 10 per cent each year for the export sector and an almost unbelievable 100 per cent for the domestic sector," said Mr Ewen-Street. "The Greens and the organics industry have pushed very hard for the establishment of national organic standards so it's pleasing to see this huge boost for the industry come to fruition.

"What became apparent early on with the select committee inquiry was the need to protect the industry from less-reputable certifiers. The committee foresaw the scenario in which certifiers may have become more motivated by profits than in a fundamental belief in organics.

"For the industry to thrive we need to maintain the very highest standards so we can sell our products around the world with full confidence that the buyers respect the certification.

"The Green Party's budget bid to establish national organic standards has already paid dividends, with New Zealand being granted 'third country' status with the United States and the European Union that is effectively a government-to-government guarantee that organic certification delivers on its promises."

Mr Ewen-Street said a crucial component of the national standards would be maintaining zero tolerance of genetically engineered material.

"Overseas experience and research have shown that it's a physical impossibility for organic produce to exist side-by-side with GE produce so we'll keep working hard to ensure these standards are strictly enforced.

"The industry would agree that zero tolerance is the ideal model, but we've already seen the Government's readiness to fudge on what is acceptable. Organics consumers can be rest assured the Greens and the industry will remain vigilant in areas where the Government has chosen to turn a blind eye.

"Overall, this is a positive outcome for organics. It's a win-win for both the producers and consumers with a yardstick to guarantee the quality of organic produce," said Mr Ewen-Street.


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