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Minister Wipes-Out on Knowledge Wave

Press Release
Ron Law

Advocate for knowledge-based governance

The Minister of Agriculture, Jim Sutton, has wiped-out and hit the rocks in his recent attempt at riding the backside of the Knowledge Wave.

"It is very unfortunate that the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon Jim Sutton, didn't walk his own government's 'knowledge wave' talk before making ill-informed and damaging comments about organically grown produce on the BBC World Service," said Ron Law, an advocate for knowledge-based governance (Ph 09-832 4773).

Mr Sutton's unfortunate comments can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/business/highlights/010730_nzgm.shtml

"Mr Sutton's false statement aligning organically grown mushrooms with E Coli outbreaks, perpetuates an unfair and scientifically indefensible myth that even the smallest amount of inquiry would have uncovered as an untruth," said Ron Law. "It is anathema to the so-called Knowledge Wave that a Minister of the Crown would uncritically repeat one of the Biotech industry's public lies."

Mr Sutton, in referring to mushrooms being grown in artificial fertiliser, has also demonstrated an appalling lack of knowledge regarding mushroom growing.

Mr Sutton has either been deliberately mislead by his advisors, or they themselves are majorly ill-informed; he owes the entire organics industry an immediate apology.

The neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA, nor the Ministry of Health in New Zealand has any data that even suggests that organically grown produce results in increased faecal contamination of the food chain -- in fact, the overwhelming majority of evidence reveals that intensively raised beef and chicken contribute to the vast majority of faecal contamination of the food chain.

The CDC identifies the main source for human infection with E. coli as meat contaminated during slaughter. Virulent strains of E. coli, such as E. coli 0157:H7, develop in the digestive tract of cattle, which is mainly fed with starchy grain. (see UN Food & Agriculture Organisation's [FAO] report at http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/X4983e.htm) Contrary to Mr Sutton's ill-informed statement on the BBC, the FAO concludes that organic farming potentially reduces the risk of E. coli infection, not increase it.

Mr Sutton was correct in saying, "I think producers should always be conscious of the entitlement of consumers for safe food." The growing knowledge wave that the United Nations refers to demonstrates clearly that organically grown foods offer consumers such choice.

It really is a shame that the Minister slandered the burgeoning organic industry when asked to comment about the Royal Commission's report on genetically manipulated foods; one hopes that this is not a case of cutting down tall poppies.

"Given Mr Sutton's outrage earlier this year when conventional farming in New Zealand was falsely accused of harbouring mad cow disease, one assumes that an immediate apology to the organic industry will be forthcoming -- that is if the government really does believe in the knowledge wave beng anything more than hype," said Ron Law. ( juderon@clear.net.nz)

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