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FFNZ send a message to Wellington

19 October 2001

PR159/01


FFNZ send a message to Wellington.

The National Board, Provincial Presidents and Industry Chairs of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) have each written a total of 4,600 letters to all 120 Members of Parliament seeking their personal commitment to uphold the Royal Commission's recommendations.

The Federation supports a cautious approach to GM technology and will only proceed if it meets market demands, subject to safety and environmental assessment. This policy was unanimously adopted at the Federation's National Conference in 1998.

"The Federation is extremely concerned that groups opposed to new technology will undermine the strength of New Zealand's agriculture sector, said FFNZ President Alistair Polson.

"Statements by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development, Hon Jim Anderton that an extended moratorium on GM field trials would not cause the sky to fall in, are naïve and misguided. The current moratorium was a voluntary undertaking by the scientific community, who had every expectation the moratorium would end in due course.

"While a politically expedient solution for the Government, a continued moratorium on GM field trails or commercial release will effectively be a moratorium on GM. Any commercial release will be a minimum of two years away but no organisation will be prepared to invest if it is vulnerable to political whim and the risk of an extended moratorium.

"Compliance requirements already make GM research a marginal activity, further constraints will tip the balance for researchers and investors. Fonterra is not scare mongering when they say they will move their research offshore.

"New Zealand farmers compete on a daily basis with producers all over the world and these same competitors are using and researching new technology in the battle for competitive advantage. If we are not able to compete New Zealand's future as a world leader in efficient agricultural production of safe, high quality food at an affordable price will be in jeopardy.

"Turning our back on this technology would be like rejecting refrigeration technology in the 1880's, aerial top dressing in the 1950s or the chilled meat trade advances in the 1980s.

"It is time for the Government to show leadership and proceed with a cautious approach to GM technology, assessed on a case by case basis"

ENDS

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