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MAF warned against downgrading ag produce

MAF warned against downgrading New Zealand's agricultural produce

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been warned against downgrading the quality of New Zealand produce on the world market as a result of its proposals to allow some degree of contamination from the release of GE organisms.

The warning against lowering standards and undermining farm incomes and New Zealand's economy relates to failures already predicted for the co-existence management system being developed by MAF and open to public consultation till Friday.

The authorities admit that the system cannot keep the two kinds of agricultural production completely separate, and as a result it will progressively terminate GE-Free production. GE-free conventional and organic produce will be downgraded to a lower level of quality-standards as assessed by AgriQuality and the international food industry.

" MAF must not undermine profitability and market acceptance of New Zealand products by downgrading them from GE-Free to the lower "non-gm" standard used for food with limited amounts of GE contaminants", says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"There is no denying there is demand for GE-Free and this opportunity is to be preserved for future generations. It must not be sacrificed to speculation with GE resulting in contamination," he says

The warning is made in a submission to MAF from the national network of GE-Free groups including the Auckland GE-Free coalition which is organising a march in Auckland on Saturday 16th as a follow-up to last year's September 1st rally.

" It is becoming clear that despite good intentions MAF cannot make a genuinely effective coexistence system work and they must say so to government," warns Mr Carapiet.

" Our biotechnology strategy must preserve the opportunities of GE-free production. MAF must not fudge the issues by setting up a leaky half-baked system built on inadequate controls and last-minute fix-ups."

"A fake system would cost many millions of dollars but still not deliver. Farm exports, our international reputation, basic consumer rights and our environment would all be in peril."

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