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Government remains blind to organic wisdom

10 November, 2003
Government remains blind to organic wisdom

It seems everybody realises New Zealand's huge potential to become an organic produce superpower - except the Government, Green MP Ian Ewen-Street said today.

Mr Ewen-Street warned that the organic sector's strategic plan and launch of national standards and the announcement by Japanese company Nikken Seil to create an organic business park near Oamaru could be undermined by the Government's stubborn pursuit of genetically engineered organisms.

"We've seen a momentous week for the organics sector, with the launch of national standards and a strategy that is set to earn New Zealand $1 billion annually within 10 years," said Mr Ewen-Street, the Green Organics spokesperson.

"To top that off, Nikken want to invest $50 million in North Otago to create an ecological business park to create sustainable farming and a safe and healthy food supply. However, the huge potential that these developments represent could be seriously undermined by the threat of GE organism in the food chain.

"There is a huge demand worldwide for GE free produce but those overseas markets would simply dry up overnight if there was a hint of GE contamination in our organic produce. Our organic food would be utterly rejected, along with any thoughts of a billion-dollar industry.

"It exposes the stupidity of the Government in funding GE research which, to my mind, is simply throwing good money after bad. It should follow the lead of Nikken and invest in sustainable sciences such as ecology and organic agriculture.

"If GE scientists leave New Zealand, then so be it. Their departure will make New Zealand a far more attractive proposition for the world's best ecological and sustainable scientists."

Mr Ewen-Street said it was pleasing to see that Green Party budget initiatives four years ago have helped lead to the developments of the past week.

"The Greens effectively planted the seed for this four years ago so I'm personally very pleased to see the germination of this strategy," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"The strategy provides a mechanism for greater cooperation between those in the organic sector, which to this point has been a widely dispersed group of small-scale farmers. It also brings bigger players, such as Fonterra and Heinz Wattie's, into the organic fold in a manner that could boost the traditional small market producers without overwhelming them."

ENDS

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