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Govt urged to put serious money into organics

Soil & Health co-chair Steffan Browning is calling for the government to put serious money into organics.

‘In a discussion with organic sector members at the Moutere Station on Monday, Prince Charles confirmed his support for the concept of an organic New Zealand as a logical forward step for this country and expressed incredulity at the current push towards genetic engineering’, said Mr Browning.

Statistics show a massive increase in unsustainable practices in New Zealand’s primary production sector, yet organics, the ‘cutting edge’ of sustainable practice, is allowed to languish with a lack of serious government support.

Pure, clean green New Zealand waves a sustainability banner, but its practice is appalling, Mr Browning said.

In the last two decades, while sustainability has been a buzz word, nitrogen fertilizer use has increased hundreds of percent, herbicides and arsenic are used at 2 ½ metre intervals throughout our vineyards, more of our land has flowed into the sea, many of our lakes and rivers are not safe for our kids to swim in, and millions of our hens and thousands upon thousands of pigs live in inhumane conditions.

Government funding for modelling the best of good organic sustainable practice has been a pittance while multi millions have gone into GE research. $3 million support for Wrightsons unnecessary GE ryegrass research alone, easily eclipses support for organics in recent years.

Soil & Health sees organic production as the spearhead in the turn around needed to reverse New Zealand’s sustainability decline.

‘The current economic growth model relying on bad primary production practice, needs an injection of organic good practice’, said Mr Browning, ‘Organic production is the niche line that can save our clean green skin’.

Mr Browning, a Bio-Gro certified organic grower himself for 16 years, said that organic growers want to work with conventional producers to make positive productive and economic change, and lists 5 points that Government could help in.

• Realistically support the emerging new organic sector organisation. The benefits go much wider than the organic community and include; tourism, health, nutrition, employment, energy, bio-diversity and sustainability.

• Support targeted organic research. Use the best of organics to support the conversion of primary production to true ecological sustainability.

• Encourage training of organic horticulture and agriculture technicians and consultants.

• Stop misinformation around organics, by speeding up the investigation of pesticides in organics. The New Zealand Food Safety Authority and the Commerce Commission are sitting on doubtful test results over a year old. Organic consumers and producers deserve better.

• Give incentives for sustainable management and penalise/tax damaging inputs and practices. The price difference between organic and conventional production will ease when good practice is supported and bad is discouraged.

Steffan Browning said that the Soil and Health Association of New Zealand looks forward to active Government support of a truly Clean Green New Zealand.

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