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Organic Farmer Appears Before Royal Commission

22 November 2000 PR130/2000

ORGANIC FARMER APPEARS BEFORE ROYAL COMMISSION

Organic dairy farmer and Federated Farmers Vice President Tom Lambie today told the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification that as an organic farmer he did not consider GM technology a threat to his organic production.

Mr Lambie, who has been a large scale, certified organic dairy farmer since 1989, was supporting Federated Farmers submission on GM use in New Zealand.

"As a committed organic dairy farmer and as Vice-President, I cannot overemphasise the importance to New Zealand of adopting a policy that reinforces producers' right to adopt the most sustainable production system appropriate to their available resources."

"The challenges of coexistence of organic production with GM production are similar to the challenges intrinsic to the coexistence of organic and conventional production."

Mr Lambie said that he did not share concerns of some organic and conventional growers who believe that they will be disadvantaged by the use of GM in crops. "They believe that non-GE production cannot coexist with GM production. I think that is incorrect."

"Different production systems live side by side, right at this moment. The effects of activities can, and at times do, cross property boundaries. This is an everyday occurrence for things such as smells, and farmers modify their activities to minimise the effects."

"The effects from other activities such as pollen drift can present more serious challenges. These problems are ones that organic producers have to work with at present. The problem will not be new, should GM technology be used in field applications."

Speaking on wider issues, Mr Lambie said that, "New Zealand must not adopt a single 'organic strategy' believing that premiums can be captured. The Government should set in place a rational decision making procedure that allows case by case applications for GM use to proceed on a basis of sound risk management and good science."

"The concept of maintaining a ban on GM technology in order to obtain a market advantage is fundamentally flawed and will simply disadvantage New Zealand producers vis-à-vis our competitors."

"New Zealand must follow a policy that supports and reinforces the right of individuals and groups to adopt a range of specific farming policies," Mr Lambie concluded.

ENDS For further information: Tom Lambie 026-113-161 Catherine Petrey 04-473-7269

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