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Trade Deal Threatens Farmers and Food Businesses

Trade Deal Threatens Farmers and Food Businesses

The secret Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are a direct threat to food businesses and farmers, and a moratorium on the release of GE crops must be enshrined in law before the TPP is signed.

Federated Farmers are advocating for accelerating progress at the talks. This would involve changes to New Zealand legislation to standardise policies so that the Trans Pacific Partnership can be signed and readily enforced.

There appears to be a push for behind- closed-door assurances that these legislative changes will be surreptitiously put in place before the deal is sealed and before negotiations around wording are made public in four years.

“In essence the secret free trade agreement could be signed under the proviso that legislation will be changed to allow New Zealand to grow GE crops," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ (in food and environment).

This is despite reassurances from the trade negotiation Minister Tim Groser that New Zealand's interests would not be betrayed.

“This is a direct threat to the freedoms and sovereignty of all farmers. It will destroy the competitive point of difference that helps New Zealand exporters thrive. The TPPA looks like being the ultimate betrayal of New Zealand farmers and food exporters to overseas corporate interests," says Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-Free NZ.

The Ministry of Primary Industries is drafting changes to the HSNO regulations defining what a GMO is, and potentially subverting oversight and avoiding regulation. The changes could go even further, by mirroring the “Monsanto Bill” in Guatemala.

The “Monsanto Bill” gave transgenic seed patent holders strict property rights in the event of possession or exchange of original or harvested seeds without the breeder’s authorization.

The ownership right extended to “varieties essentially derived from the protected variety”, thus hybrids of protected and unprotected seeds are also deemed to belong to the protected seed’s producer. Those found violating the law, wittingly or not, could face prisons term of one to four years, and fines of US$130 to $1,300.

“This threat to farmers is real. It is concerning that our very own Federated Farmers are willing to sell out New Zealand farmers' sovereignty and freedoms, by divesting control to companies like DuPont, Syngenta, Monsanto, and Pioneer.

"By advocating to remove the zero tolerance for transgenic seeds through changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) and Hazardous Substance and New Organisms (HSNO) legislation, they are kneecapping Brand New Zealand's competitive position in the world market" said Claire Bleakley.

Our unique reputation is based around producing healthy, safe high-quality food for consumers. More and more companies like Sanitarium and Goodman Fielder have sought to source all their ingredients as GE-free, using a verified segregated “non-GM" supply chain.

However companies around the world are finding it increasingly difficult to source corn or soy that is uncontaminated, and look to countries such as New Zealand as a source of clean ingredients.

New Zealand can proudly sell all food crops grown here as GE-free, ensuring unique access to the global market for clean, safe food.

It is this that the TPP looks set to deliberately destroy. Defensive action by the government is required now.

A moratorium on the release of GE crops must be enshrined in law before the TPP is signed.

For more information visit gmfreepolicy.com


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