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New Zealand Farmers Clearly Favour Organic Over GM

Press Release: 11 September 2000

NEW RESEARCH SHOWS NEW ZEALAND FARMERS CLEARLY FAVOUR ORGANIC OVER GM

Recent research conducted by the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University has revealed a strong lack of support for GM technologies among primary producers. Many more farmers and growers showed an inclination towards organic production rather than GM. The researchers – Andrew Cook (Lincoln), John Fairweather (Lincoln) and Hugh Campbell (Otago University) – analysed the intentions of 656 farmers and growers across all the major agricultural and horticultural sectors about whether they would adopt GM technologies or organic production.

The survey measured strength of farmer intentions to use new technologies in the next ten years. The results showed that only 21% of growers had a positive intention to use GM technologies, while 44% had a negative intention. Conversely, 37% had a positive intention towards organic production, while 19% had a negative intention. In a more direct question, 49% of farmers and growers thought that New Zealand should try to become GM-free, while 32% disagreed with such a strategy.

Dr Hugh Campbell (Otago University) commented that while the results may surprise some people, the survey involved a lot of respondents and deployed sophisticated methods to enable an accurate understanding of farmer and grower intentions to be understood. Further, the results are in line with other recent surveys on farmer and grower opinions on GM and organics. One recent Australian survey showed that 26% of Australian primary producers were supportive of using GM technologies, while a recent survey in New Zealand by Affco suggested that 15% of growers supported GM technologies.

The same Affco study suggested that 70% of farmers and growers supported organics. Dr Campbell suggested that this result was overly influenced by the use of an ‘either/or’ option in the survey method, but the Lincoln University findings were not incompatible with this figure. ‘We have provided a more accurate finding for the true level of support for organics (37%) and GM (21%) among farmers and the results are still very surprising. There is clearly strong latent support for organic production, and the level of farmer antipathy to organics evident a few years ago appears to have dramatically decreased’. ‘In contrast, the GM fad among farm industry leaders and agricultural scientists is not catching on with the grassroots industry. Farmers are basically sceptical about the prospects for GM technologies’.

Contacts

For Comment:
Dr Hugh Campbell, Otago University.
Ph: 03-4798749, Fax: 03-4799095
Email: hugh.campbell@otago.ac.nz

Executive Summary Downloadable from:
www.organicsnewzealand.org.nz

Full report available from:
Ann Christie
Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit,
Lincoln University.
Ph: 03-3252811 x8183, Fax: 03-3253847


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