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Govt suppressing New Zealand’s organic producers

Soil & Health Association of New Zealand (Est. 1941)

Publishers of ORGANIC NZ


For: Immediate Release
Attn: Agriculture and Consumer Reporters
Date: 2-6-2005

The Soil and Health Association of New Zealand wants to know when the government is going to stop suppressing New Zealand’s organic producers.

Not only is the government holding back serious support to the environmentally sustainable organic sector, but it kicks it in the guts with its attack on the international GE liability provisions of the Cartogena Protocol, said Soil & Health Co-chair and spokesperson Steffan Browning.

Strong liability provisions are essential to safeguarding organic production from GE contamination. Soil & Health had submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade ahead of MFAT’s destructive trip to the Montreal Cartogena talks.

“It is embarrassing to know that the USA puppeteers have the New Zealand knowledge wave government’s support for limited to zero liability for GE. So much for our Clean Green image.”

The Soil and Health Association of New Zealand and BioGro are members of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements), the principle international organic umbrella group.

IFOAM calls for strict liability to be imposed for the introduction of GMOs. To insure that the costs of injuries resulting from defective products are borne by the manufacturer that put such products on the market rather than by the injured persons who are powerless to protect themselves,
strict liability for GMOs is warranted.

Strict liability ensures that organic farmers and consumers receive protection from problems of proof inherent in pursuing negligence, placing the burden of loss on manufacturers rather than injured parties who are powerless to protect themselves. IFOAM applauds the inclusion of a GMO liability regime in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an idea that originated from African nations and other Third World nations, and is opposed by the USA
and Canada. [ May 30, 2005 ]

New Zealand has added to a list of liability options under consideration at Montreal, ranging from legally binding agreement to a combination of binding and non-binding agreement.
“NZ Foreign Affairs added a number 6 – no instrument, that is no agreement, and that has to be one of the biggest pokes in the eye to any non GE producer, organic or conventional,” said Soil & Health’s Steffan Browning.

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs’ knows full well that there are gaps in liability provision and New Zealand has already suffered from GE contamination.

Added to this poke at organic viability is Government’s lack of progress in the funding of the new organic sector organisation Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ). OANZ is to be the sectors collective voice, something that the government has supported in concept. Now that the structure is resolved, Government money is nowhere to be seen and appears to have been continually tagged to the progress of State Owned Enterprise, Agriquality’s level of involvement in OANZ and the sectors meeting purely commercial models.

Soil & Health had looked to the budget in hope that the government would do something meaningful for the organic sector as an example of government commitment to sustainability in NZ.
Clearly Governments commitment to sustainability is veneer thin, according to Steffan Browning.
“While the dairy giants call for even higher production from over exploited animals and soils, our rivers and lakes are becoming increasingly polluted, yet organics has solutions. Government knows this and pays lip service to the sustainability problems but ignores the real solution. By giving the new organic sector organisation, OANZ, a real boost, New Zealands primary production can begin to address sustainability problems while maintaining economic viability.

To operate in a truly sustainable way with out fear of GE contamination is surely the desire of most of New Zealand producers and the sooner the better that organics is supported to show the way, said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.


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