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Greens want NZ farmers to make most of green image

8 September 2005

Greens want NZ farmers to make most of clean green image

The Green Party today launched its agriculture policy in Marlborough with a call for the Government to back its plan for ten percent of New Zealand farms to be certified organic by 2010.

Co-Leader Rod Donald and Agriculture Spokesperson Steffan Browning, the Party's number eleven and Kaikoura candidate, toasted the policy this afternoon over a glass of organic Seresin Reserve Chardonnay at the Seresin Winery near Blenheim.

"New Zealand's international trading reputation as a supplier of high quality produce depends on our clean, green image," Rod Donald says.

"The Green Party is determined to give substance to that image, not only by cleaning up our rivers and decontaminating toxic sites, but also by helping farmers to make the transition to organic agriculture."

"In a tough international market place, New Zealand will never be able to compete on price, we have to compete on quality," Mr Browning says.

"Organically produced food commands a premium in key markets because customers recognise that it is top quality, is healthy and produced without degrading the environment. Certified-organic production represents the best of the 'value added' philosophy.

"Obviously the Green Party remains committed to keeping New Zealand GE-free, in part because if GMOs were ever to be commercially released into our environment, it would threaten New Zealand's credibility as the organic food basket.

"With international demand for organic produce exceeding supply, it makes sense for the Government to adopt the Green Party's organic plan. We would fund a regionally-based advisory and mentoring service, provide short-term loans and guarantees to producers making the switch to organics, move public good science funding out of GE and into organics, include organics in all agriculture courses and support Organics Aotearoa New Zealand."

Mr Donald: "We've deliberately chosen an organic winery to launch this policy because we are very concerned that wine is one of the most chemical-intensive sectors of the horticulture industry. All grape growers should follow Seresin's example and wean themselves off pesticides. Otherwise they risk leaving their customers with a bad taste in their mouths."

The full agriculture policy is at http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/policy4756.html .

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